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NEWS | March 31, 2021

NMCP HITS ONE YEAR MARK SINCE START OF COVID-19 EFFORTS

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Dylan Kinee

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) recently reached its one year anniversary of the start of the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

On March 8, 2020, NMCP ran their first COVID-19 test through the medical center and had their first COVID-19 patient admitted to the medical center.

NMCP quickly implemented an innovative drive thru screening and triage site designed to relieve the patient flow through the Emergency Department and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in an open air environment. This site has processed more than 107,000 COVID tests throughout the past year.

“This is all designed to keep patients in their vehicle, preventing spread of potential infections in waiting rooms and treatment areas of the hospital,” said Cmdr. Peter Cole, NMCP’s Emergency Medicine department chair.

“This would not be possible without the assistance of dozens of people from all over, contributing to the effort. Everyone can be very proud of this, it is something about which the entire command can hold their head high.”

Continuing its innovative effort, NMCP created a COVID Call Center. The original mission of the COVID Call Center was to provide information about the growing global pandemic. It quickly shifted from an information only platform as the demand for testing grew, and began incorporating one-stop scheduling for COVID testing in order to support and provide a seamless product to the operational forces. The COVID Call Center has received over 104,000 calls throughout the year.

“The nurses manning the Call Center are the frontlines of this hospital’s operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Terry Brown, officer in charge of NMCP’s COVID-19 Call Center. “This innovation requires not only answering phones, but also creating reports and swab lists, printing orders, nursing triage, along with other administrative tasks.”

During the year, NMCP have sent staff all over the country to assist in the fight COVID-19. NMCP has sent specialized staff everywhere from New York, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico to integrate and assist civilian hospitals.

“People often associate military support, or Defense Support of Civil Authorities missions (DCSA), with large scale and localized responses to hurricanes, earthquakes and fires,” said Cmdr. Shane Lawson, the executive officer of Expeditionary Medicine Facility (EMF) Juliet. “In this case, Navy medical forces integrated into civilian facilities to maintain services during challenging times brought on by COVID-19. Without the assistance of military medical staff, the most at-risk healthcare facilities would face collapse.”

Upon arrival of the COVID-19 vaccination in December 2020, NMCP’s immunizations clinic worked nonstop to give all eligible staff, operational forces and beneficiaries a chance to get the vaccine. They have given over 50,000 vaccinations so far and their vaccination efforts are ongoing.

“Over the past year, NMCP staff has skillfully adapted to this new life,” said Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Daley, NMCP’s COVID-19 outpatient medical director. “It has been a stormy journey with unpredictable seas and yet our staff has navigated as though they had sailed it thousands of times before.”

As the U.S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating military hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally-acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, along with the area's 10 branch health and TRICARE Prime Clinics, provide care for the Hampton Roads area. The medical center also supports premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman for future roles in healing and wellness.
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