Human Science Junior Contributes to COVID-19 Relief Efforts Through U.S. Navy

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March 29, 2020 – Tomorrow, Safiullah Rauf (NHS’21), a junior in the human science major and an expeditionary medical facility corpsman in the U.S. Navy Reserve, will travel to New York to provide medical relief on the USNS Comfort. 

Safiullah Rauf (NHS’21) in his U.S. Navy Uniform seated before a dining room table and portraits on the wall.
Safiullah Rauf (NHS’21)

“USNS Comfort will provide medical care to non-COVID-19 patients in the New York Metropolitan area to relieve the burden on hospitals that are treating COVID-19 patients,” Rauf wrote as he was preparing to depart. “Additionally, it will decrease the spread of infection to non-COVID-19 patients by minimizing the risk exposure from co-location with positive COVID-19 patients.” 

He added, “In my capacity as a Navy corpsman, I will act as a medical assistant to physicians supporting the prevention and treatment of disease and injuries on USNS Comfort.”

COVID-19 Response 

Since February, Rauf has been engaged as a volunteer with the Arlington County’s Public Health Division to assist with the COVID-19 response.

“I am a lead case investigator for the COVID-19 Response Team, assessing the health care and logistic needs of positive cases and monitoring community spread,” he said. “I research and analyze positive cases’ contact tracing through interviews and present written and oral recommendations to these residents and their at-risk contacts, taking into full consideration the wide range of factors and requirements which affect the county’s management of its public health care delivery system.” 

Living Cura Personalis

Rauf has been in the Navy since 2016 and has served in various military roles since graduating high school in 2012. He says his coursework at Georgetown has helped prepare him for service during this global pandemic.

“My education at Georgetown University has been instrumental in my aspiration to provide effective and time-sensitive public health intervention in emergencies,” he said. “Professor Joan Riley’s ‘Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’ class provided me with the necessary tools and mental models to deal with public health intervention.”

The overall human science major, he said, is “relevant to my work as a Navy corpsman.”

“These classes provided me the necessary foundational knowledge in science and infectious disease that I will apply to my work while serving on USNS Comfort,” he noted. “Furthermore, I will live Georgetown’s motto, cura personalis, while serving aboard the USNS Comfort.”

Leading on Campus

Rauf was just elected to serve, during the 2020-2021 school year, as the president of the Georgetown University Student Veterans Association.

Currently, the association and the Georgetown Disability Alliance have partnered “to provide more accessibility to students with disabilities on campus, including wounded warriors.”

“I have been an active member of the association since I started school at Georgetown in 2018,” Rauf said. “I served as the executive secretary to the president in 2019-2020. ‘Veterans for Others,’ is our creed, and it is no hollow reference to our vision of Jesuit values. It is our commitment to continue a legacy of putting others before ourselves.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: UPDATE – On April 6, 2020, the White House announced it approved both the New York and New Jersey governors’ requests to begin treating COVID-19 patients on the USNS Comfort.