An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | June 9, 2021

Nevada Air Guard’s ‘Baby Doc’ a leader in pandemic battle

By Staff Sgt. Matthew Greiner, 152nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LAS VEGAS – Undeterred by a rare health condition early in life, Nevada Air Guard 1st Lt. Caleena Longworth is now on the front line of health care in southern Nevada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Few in the state have vaccinated more people than Longworth, who has administered the vaccine to more than 4,000 people while acquiring the nickname “Baby Doc” from her health care coworkers, given her youthful appearance. And she did that while finishing her medical doctorate at UNLV’s Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine this spring.

Her passion for medicine originated during childhood. Longworth, 30, entered the world in Redding, California, with a rare health condition called duplex collecting system when she was born with a renal tract abnormality caused by an incomplete fusion of a kidney. The ailment can lead to health problems and kidney damage. Because of the potential threat to her health, a portion of her kidney was removed when she was 13. The procedure left her with a large scar across her abdomen, a reminder of what she has overcome.

Inspired by the health care providers she encountered during her youth spent in Reno, Nevada, she was motivated to become a medical doctor.

She’s now a medical service corps officer in the 152nd Medical Group participating in the Early Physician Appointment program. The program aims to recruit young doctors exactly like “Baby Doc” into the National Guard.

Longworth has been busy during the global pandemic. From April-May 2020, she established and was the Nevada National Guard officer in charge of the initial community-based collection site in southern Nevada.

She was called back into duty this winter, joined Task Force 17, and administered the vaccine to thousands of Nevadans at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas.

Longworth said her first stint on duty focused on planning, while this winter’s duty involved working directly with patients.

“It was just me and the patient and the vaccine,” she said. “There was a real sense of hope.”

Longworth also volunteered to administer vaccines on behalf of UNLV. While on military duty and as a medical volunteer, she has vaccinated more than 4,000 people – about the equivalent of vaccinating the entire population of Ely, Nevada.

“I checked my updated numbers and I have vaccinated about 4,500 people personally, with the help of an admin person,” Longworth said. “The admin person does all of the paperwork; I just poke patients and give the shots.”

While working for the Nevada Air Guard during the pandemic, Longworth was concurrently wrapping up her medical doctorate at UNLV’s Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine. She graduated in May and will do her residency at Utah HealthCare Institute in Millcreek, Utah.

To say the final year of medical school for Longworth was a challenge is an understatement.

“I received great support from both the military and medical school during the past year,” Longworth said. “My unit was extremely supportive of my school obligations and accommodated my school schedule.

“The medical school was just as supportive. The faculty was great, especially when our C-130 broke down and I didn’t get back when expected. I had to miss class and clinic – but the staff was always very accommodating.”

UNLV gave Longworth academic credit for her work at the community-based collection site, which the school and Nevada National Guard cooperatively staffed.

“The medical school gave me six weeks of credit for the first seven weeks I was on military duty,” Longworth said.

Before receiving her degree, Longworth was named the Outstanding Student in the Family Medicine Department and received the school’s Exceptional Service Award for her work during the pandemic.

Fresh out of medical school, Longworth is quick to offer advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She said the best medicine is preventive medicine and noted it’s far easier to live a healthy life than cure a disease.

“Health care is just that – it’s all about keeping people healthy,” Longworth said. “I’m set to enter family medicine, which emphasizes preventive medicine.”

Two decades after her health battle, Longworth realizes her doctors provided the motivation for her career.

“I had doctors in my life who devoted years of training and sacrifice in order to become a physician,” Longworth said. “If they can do that for me, I can certainly do that for my future patients.”

 

 

Related Articles
The 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, practiced agile combat employment alongside other support agencies, Gowen Field, Idaho, Feb. 1-2, 2024.
Idaho Air Guard Pilots Refuel A-10s During Training Exercise
By Maj. Bonnie Blakely, | Feb. 6, 2024
GOWEN FIELD, Idaho - A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots from the 190th Fighter Squadron, part of the 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, participated in a training exercise Feb. 1-2.The pilots landed at Jocelyn Field, Magic...

U.S. Air National Guard Airmen with the 146th Airlift Wing test the functionality of a Modular Airborne Firefighting System  unit loaded inside the cargo bay of a C-130J aircraft at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, California, Aug. 29, 2023. The 146th Airlift Wing has been called up to help the U.S. Forest Service fight wildfires across the United States.
California Air Guard Mobilized for Aerial Firefighting
By Master Sgt. Nicholas Carzis, | Aug. 31, 2023
PORT HUENEME, Calif. - Two C-130J Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped aircraft assigned to the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Colorado Springs,...

A Nevada Air National Guard Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System C-130 assigned to the 152nd Airlift Wing takes off from Nevada Air National Guard Base, Reno, for Klamath Falls, oregon, Aug. 16, 2023. The MAFFS aircraft is helping to fight wildfires in several western states.
Nevada Air Guard Helps Battle Western Wildfires
By Senior Master Sgt. Paula Macomber, | Aug. 17, 2023
NEVADA AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Nev. - The Nevada Air National Guard will support wildland firefighting operations in several western states at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center.The NIFC asked the Nevada Air...