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Georgia Medical Detachment shifts to serve public need

By Spc. Isaiah Matthews | Georgia National Guard | Nov. 19, 2020

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MARIETTA, Ga. – Each year, thousands of Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers receive medical care from the Marietta-based Georgia Medical Detachment, 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard.

The Georgia Medical Detachment, or MED DET, is responsible for maintaining the Georgia Army National Guard's health and wellness. This year though, the MED DET assisted civilians and service members alike. During this global pandemic, the MED DET undertook a new approach to ensure the safety of civilians and members of the Georgia Guard.

"We were the first medical detachment in conjunction with our medical Air Force counterparts to establish medical support teams," said Maj. Gregory Hawley, commander of the Georgia Medical Detachment. "We had teams in place to provide support however the hospitals needed."

To ensure the force's safety, the MED DET released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Guard Bureau about force health protection measures. The detachment disseminated the information to the medical support companies and company commanders throughout the Georgia Army National Guard. These recommendations and cautions allowed Soldiers and Airmen to understand the virus better and mitigate the risk of exposure.

As public health's needs changed throughout the year, the MED DET adjusted its focus, joining forces with the Georgia Air National Guard to respond to the public need. Joint force medical teams deployed to the three hospitals in Georgia with high COVID-19 rates: Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, and Floyd Medical Center in Rome.

While responding to the public health crisis, the Georgia Medical Detachment widened its focus by preparing for the upcoming flu season. The detachment instilled new precautions this year to mitigate the flu's spread while continuing the fight against COVID-19.

"We've made sure we incorporated the COVID-19 social distancing practices with the flu," said Hawley. "Getting the flu shot won't stop you from getting COVID-19, but it will keep your immune system healthy, and that will help you fight the virus."

The Georgia Medical Detachment's mission has always promoted and protected the Georgia Army National Guard force's health. However, the fight against COVID-19 has demonstrated the detachment's ability to increase its ability to respond and alleviate suffering, whether the point of need is civilian or military.