FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky National Guard is helping staff the COVID-19 call center to manage data collection and case management.
Soldiers with the 1163rd Medical Company and Airmen with the 123rd Medical Group provided data entry services, coordinated with testing laboratories, and called to check up on quarantined COVID-19 patients on behalf of the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
"Having the National Guard here has started paying huge dividends," said Navy Capt. Douglas Thoroughman, the acting state epidemiologist. "Gov. (Andy) Beshear has asked for some very specific information, such as detailed information from labs testing for COVID-19 in Kentucky and daily patient disposition of our Kentucky cases; I have been able to task two groups of our Guard contingent with coordinating and executing these efforts so that other staff can focus on the huge surveillance and investigation needs of this response."
Answering phones or inputting important information allows for the full-time staff to get time off and gives them a chance to recharge," he said. "They are also manning positions in our clinician call center so that we can spell out some of the exhausted public health staff who have been doing this around the clock for the last three weeks."
Getting a chance to help in the fight against the global pandemic, the Soldiers themselves are excited to do their part.
"It is very rewarding being able to quickly respond to help the needs of the people of Kentucky," said Sgt. Jacob Tarrence, with the 1163rd. "I joined the National Guard to be able to help out fellow Kentuckians in a time of need, so it has been great to be able to do that. I'm glad I will be able to tell my daughter, Hazel, that her dad worked hard to help flatten the curve. I'm proud to be a part of Team Kentucky.
Thoroughman also wants Soldiers who aren't currently in the fight to know the best thing they can do to help is to focus on social distancing, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if sick, and stay away from public places.
"The best thing about working with the Guard is that they have a 'can do' attitude," said Thoroughman. "When I give them task they set to it with the mental orientation that basically the job is already completed, just let them get at it!"
More than 19,700 members of the National Guard have stepped up across the United States to help during this time of need.