FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Florida National Guard is conducting COVID-19 testing at a long-term care (LTC) facility with the support of the U.S Public Health Service, Florida Department of Health, County Health Departments and other partner agencies.
Soldiers from the 256th Medical Area Support Company (MCAS) and 356th Quartermaster Company (QC) are assisting local authorities to meet the state’s mandate to test all staff at LTC facilities. Soldiers are calling LTCs to schedule appointments for testing teams to go to each site and test staff and residents.
“We are staffed with nine Soldiers who are making over 100 outbound calls a day to long term care facilities to schedule COVID-19 testing,” said Army Maj. Jacqueline S. Zuluaga, 256th MCAS company commander. “This is a very professional group and I am proud to be working with them.”
The 256th MCAS has provided medical best practices and guidance to other units in South Florida, and its Soldiers have served as subject matter experts to Soldiers from other brigades who are also conducting missions in different parts of Florida. In support of the COVID-19 response, the 256th designed and developed a detailed Mobile Testing Team (MTT) and Mobile Testing Group (MTG T3) training program.
Local authorities have used the 256th standard operating procedures, mission essential tasks and other guidance during the COVID-19 response. In addition to training personnel and Soldiers, the 256th also helped develop the standard operating procedures for community-based test sites (CBTS), MTT and walk-up test sites in South Florida.
“Working with the National Guard has been great; they help us out wherever we need, whether it’s building PPE kits or making phone calls,” said Mike Hassell, deputy incident commander and safety officer of Region 7. “It’s all hands on deck, and we are supporting one another to ensure the mission is a success.”
The Florida National Guard has more than 2,100 members on duty in support of Florida’s COVID-19 response. Soldiers and Airmen are operating 28 CBTS where they have collected over 192,000 samples. The Guard is also supporting the Florida Department of Health’s screening operations at seven Florida airports.