Law Grad Found a Way to Take His Mind Off Waiting for Bar Exam Results: Volunteering at a Queens Pop-Up Hospital for COVID-19 Patients

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UNT Dallas Law Grad Volunteers at NY Hospital

Written By, Angela Morris

John Kiraly, a UNT Dallas College of Law graduate who learned this month he passed the Texas bar exam, has volunteered for three weeks in the patient administration department of a pop-up hospital in a tennis center in New York.

When he learned he had passed the Texas bar exam, John Kiraly was as excited and relieved as any law graduate.

But he might have been the only brand-new Texas lawyer to learn the happy news while volunteering at a New York pop-up hospital for COVID-19 patients.

For three weeks, Kiraly, a May 2019 graduate of the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law, has volunteered with a Florida-based private humanitarian company, Comprehensive Health Services, that’s staffing a field hospital in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

Kiraly, a U.S. Army veteran, is committed to volunteering there until the field hospital shuts down, however long that takes.

Texas Lawyer caught up with Kiraly over the phone to learn more about his volunteer work in the heart of America’s coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what he had to say, edited for space and clarity.

What have you been doing to help with the coronavirus outbreak in New York?

I volunteered about three weeks ago to come up here and immediately started to essentially do the job I was doing in the army. I was in the army 23 years.

While I was in the army, I was usually involved in either medical evacuation, or if I wasn’t deployed, then I was usually working in a hospital in the patient administration department.

In that department, we manage admissions, discharges, deaths and transfers to other facilities, and other needed medical evacuations that might require a higher level of care.

Could you tell me more about the field hospital?

There’s a 470-bed field hospital that the company set up inside this tennis center, and essentially, it’s a treatment facility for COVID-positive patients. I knew when I

had the opportunity to come here and volunteer my time and my services, I knew it would be rewarding. I knew it would help out the folks of New York.

Why did you volunteer with this?

First of all, it was something I knew: The job that they needed done was something that I knew, because that’s what I had done in the army for so long.

My daughter asked me one day, “Why do you have to go?” and I said, “If not me, then who?” If you have the ability to go help, you should go.

What is your history in the military service? Where were you deployed?

I was deployed to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once, and in the Sinai Desert once. It’s quite a few deployments that required the hospital administration or medical evacuation position. That’s what I did on all those deployments.

Does this mean you were helping to treat soldiers who were injured in war?

I was the link between making sure they were picked up by medevac helicopters or evacuated from Iraq or Afghanistan, back to Germany or the United States. I worked with doctors and nurses and pilots of airplanes with the Air Force or helicopter pilots in the Army to make sure we got the patient to the right destination and in a timely manner.

When the hospital closes and you go home, what will you be doing in your law practice?

My plan is to open up my own practice—hang my own shingle—and I want to practice probate. I live in Lampasas County, which is about 60 miles northwest of Austin.

I want to do estate planning. I want to make sure folks have wills and all those important life documents that really mean something when you need it, or when your family needs it.

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Angela Morris is ALM Media's Texas litigation reporter. She covers lawsuits in all levels of Texas state and federal courts. Based in Austin, Morris earned journalism and government degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and since then, has worked primarily as a reporter and writer, but also has skills in videography, photography and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter at @AMorrisReports

Original article posted 4/30/2020 - law.com/newyorklawjournal/2020/04/29/while-volunteering-in-a-nyc-pop-up-hospital-this-texas-law-grad-learned-he-had-passed-the-bar-389-102519