NEWS | June 12, 2020

Ohio National Guard tests veterans' home residents, staff

By Sgt. 1st Class Chad Menegay Ohio National Guard

GEORGETOWN, Ohio – Ohio National Guard medical personnel recently conducted COVID-19 testing of veterans and staff at the Ohio Veterans Home in the southern part of the state.

In support of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, the Ohio National Guard provided personal protective equipment and about 10 medical personnel from Company C, 237th Support Battalion, and the 178th Wing, both located in Springfield, and the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus. During a one-day mission, Guard members collected COVID-19 test samples from more than 200 staff members and approximately 140 resident veterans at the Georgetown facility.

“I was thrilled that the Ohio National Guard received and accepted the mission to administer coronavirus testing to the staff and residents of our Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown,” said retired Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, Ohio Department of Veterans Services director (and former Ohio adjutant general). “I knew that the Guard members would be professional, effective, efficient and respectful of our veterans. I have to admit that because of my many years with the Ohio National Guard, I took great pride in the wonderful way they executed this mission.”

Staff and veterans at the Ohio Veterans Home said it was a friendly and reassuring sight to see Ohio National Guard medical personnel in the facility, even if it was due to COVID-19, according to Linda Slone, the OVH-Georgetown administrator.

“It was an excellent experience. The veterans and staff were greatly appreciative of our assistance and served as great hosts,” said Maj. Jessica Taylor, an occupational health specialist for the Ohio Army National Guard and commander of Company C, 237th Support Battalion.

Once the swab tests were completed, the samples were transported by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper to a University of Cincinnati lab to be tested for COVID-19. Fortunately, all the test results were negative, meaning OVH-Georgetown had no cases of COVID-19 in the facility.

“They were professional, efficient and courteous,” Slone said. “The team lead, Major Taylor, shared with me that this was their first experience in testing a nursing home. The Ohio National Guard took extra time to thank our veterans for their service and it was heart-warming to see the different generations interact. It was an impressive sight to see this well-organized team ... one I will never forget!”

At the request of Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio National Guard has assembled about a dozen teams to assist with COVID-19 test collection and temporary staffing at Ohio’s 960 long-term care facilities across the state. Teams of medically qualified personnel are now supporting the Ohio Department of Health with the COVID-19 testing collection mission.

Since March, more than 900 Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve members have served their communities in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Missions have included helping food banks, collecting personal protective equipment, collaborating with regional partners to identify and develop alternate care sites to expand medical capacity, and augmenting medical and operational staff at prisons.