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Home : News
NEWS | May 2, 2020

Florida National Guard assists nurses with mobile testing

By Sgt. Michael Baltz 107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

SAINT AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Members of the Florida National Guard are teamed up with medical professionals from the Florida Department of Health to accommodate those unable to travel to the community-based testing sites through the creation of mobile testing teams.

Soldiers with the 44th Civil Support Team, augmented with members of the 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, are providing operational support to registered nurses with the FDOH, which are working to support the State Emergency Response Team.

“I appreciate the support of the FLNG and all the nurses. It means a lot to our residents, our staff and family members,” said Dan Weese, executive director of Brookdale St. Augustine, which received a visit from the mobile testing team.

The mobile testing teams in Northeast Florida are supporting many nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Duval County, St. John’s County, Nassau County, Bradford County and will continue to expand to support the request from the State Emergency Response Team. Test results will give the facilities the ability to establish appropriate protocols.

Members of the FLNG are providing quality assurance, logistic support and mission tracking. The nurses from the FDOH are providing patient care and are performing the specimen collection.

The cohesive partnership for the FLNG and FDOH is a theme throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but it marks the first time for many to work directly with the FLNG.

“This is my first time working alongside the military, so it’s been fabulous,” said Jennifer Romero, a registered nurse with the FDOH. “We’re all in it for the same purpose. We have collaborated wonderfully together.”

As a member of the FDOH eight-person team, Ramos is a swabber for the COVID-19 test and focuses on patient care; however, her job does provide its challenges.

“Sometimes it’s a little challenging since some of the patients that we’re swabbing are a little older, so there could be different ailments that they just don’t quite understand,” said Romero. “It’s getting around that barrier, being able to explain why we’re here, and that we’re doing this to make sure that they’re healthy.”

Both members of the FLNG and FDOH received additional training in preparation for the task of the mobile testing teams with a focus on aseptic techniques. Nurses wiped down the chairs and everyone changes gloves between patients.

Many of the FLNG Soldiers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines. The members of the mobile testing teams are aware of the positive impact of their presence.

“I feel honored that I can help our community to test individuals,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo Torres, the FLNG team lead for the mobile testing team. “When you come in with this joint agency force, you see that you’re providing relief for the community.”