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From Ghana to Washington, Sailor provides leadership during COVID-19

Female soldier with mask Petty Officer 1st Class Brenda Ike, assigned to NMRTC Bremerton, leads more than 20 military and civilian staff members in managing all supply and medical repair across the hospital. (Photo by Douglas Stutz, NMRTC Bremerton.)

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Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Heroes Behind the Mask

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brenda Ike knows about leadership, and being resourceful. After graduating from high school in Cape Coast, Ghana in West Africa, she and her family moved to Queens in New York City.

Now with ten years of service under her belt, the logistics specialist keeps Naval Hospital Bremerton stocked and supplied as the hospital’s Material Management leading petty officer.

In her current role, she now leads more than 20 military and civilian staff members in managing all supply acquisitions and medical repair for the hospital’s warehouse and mailroom operations, Central Supply Replenishment, Biomedical Repair division, Equipment Management, Purchasing division, and Defense Military Logistics Supply System administration.

“I manage all inventory and issuances to ensure the sustainment of 84 departments and three branch health clinics,” said Ike.

Ike has been lauded for her behind the scenes effort in procuring vital supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the command’s ongoing effort to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

“Materiel Management – Supply – department is critical in fighting the spread of COVID 19. Specifically, we are overall responsible for ordering and tracking PPE that protects the entire hospital staff,” explained Ike.

There have been challenges during this new norm of daily preparing, responding and providing the needed supplies for responding to the pandemic, along with other routine duties.

“Acquiring supplies, in general, has been a hurdle worldwide. I am lucky to have an amazing team in Material Management that works around the clock to ensure that our supplies are always up to date to support all the clinics. We have to consider who needs what and how we can substitute if we don't have the requested item. It has been challenging to find vendors for supplies that cannot be filled by our prime vendor. There are no breaks in searching for PPE supplies,” explained Ike.

Although much – if not all – of their work is accomplished behind the scenes, Ike and the rest of her team have reason to be justifiably gratified that their efforts are helping to make a positive difference against COVID-19.

“It means so much to my whole crew to have a hand in making sure our staff and personnel feel safe when they come to work. Materiel Management's goal is the customer first and customer always. The only way we can rest is when we know that they have what they need and most importantly that they are safe. We also have benefited from seeing our work translate to force readiness as the personal protective equipment and testing supplies are being used for force testing and patient care,” Ike said.

Ike’s responsibility as a logistics specialist is indicative of being just as integral a part of Navy Medicine as that of a physician, nurse, or hospital corpsman.

“Most people might not believe it, but the saying ‘you can't fly without supply’ applies to every mission. As logistics specialists, our job provides the resources to ensure efficiency in every operation. There is no supply chain without logistics,” stressed Ike.

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