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    Task Force Medical Defends the Sailor so the Sailor can Return to Defending the World

    3rd Medical Battalion team leads work behind the scenes for Task Force Medical

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jordan Gilbert | NAVAL BASE GUAM (April 28, 2020) U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Knapp, Lt. Cmdr....... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Jordan Gilbert 

    Commander Task Force 75

    Females make up only 19% of the United States Navy, so to say that it’s uncommon in the military to have a task force of all female leads, is an understatement. But on Naval Base Guam, where a detachment of 3rd Medical Battalion service members came to support aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), four diverse females are leading the charge.

    Task Force (TF) Medical’s COVID-19 response force is made up of 90 Marines and Sailors assigned to 3rd Marine Logistics Group out of Okinawa, Japan. Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Knapp, the officer in charge of TF Medical, oversees them all. Furthermore, Knapp also supervises the care of over 850 COVID-positive Sailors assigned to Theodore Roosevelt. She is the lead medical planner in respect to TF Medical’s mission to get Theodore Roosevelt healthy again.

    “This has been the most dynamic and challenging environment I have ever operated in. What we are doing here is truly groundbreaking. We are essentially writing the book on how to respond to a COVID outbreak on this large of a naval vessel,” Knapp said. With so many personnel and three major medical lines of effort under her charge, she couldn’t do it without delegation to her team leads: one team lead being emergency medicine physician and TF Medical Senior Medical Officer Lt. Cmdr. Cassandra Townsend, who heads the intensive care unit.

    “The needs of Theodore Roosevelt, and consequently our mission, changed multiple times when we first arrived. Eager to rise to meet the need, we designed plans rooted in adaptability,” said Townsend. “Using all the expert medical opinions and published guidelines as a launching pad, we sought to create and implement a system which protects the uninfected, cares for those infected and efficiently returns Theodore Roosevelt to its primary mission.”

    Upon arrival, Townsend’s team stood up ‘Valkyrie’, a six-bed intensive care unit complete with X-ray and ultrasound capabilities. This capability augmented local medical facilities, as the need for patient care continued to amplify. “My team of 36 service members can provide direct medical care to any COVID-positive Theodore Roosevelt Sailor who develops symptoms concerning increased risk of sudden worsening,” said Townsend. When necessary, Theodore Roosevelt Sailors are transported to Valkyrie for 24/7 critical care. Townsend continued, “Sometimes we face an enemy that is unseen, that obscures itself and hides, but we fight together, resolute. Task Force Medical defends the Sailor so the Sailor can return to defending the world.”

    For all the COVID-positive patients who don’t require critical care, Lt. Burnetta Fears’ team takes the lead. Fears is a critical care nurse who currently manages 52 nurses, providers and Hospital Corpsmen who make up the Isolation, Quarantine and Roving (IQR) teams. Her four IQR teams are responsible for assessing, screening and monitoring daily, all COVID-positive Theodore Roosevelt Sailors for any related signs and symptoms.

    “Theodore Roosevelt is a vital component in keeping the U.S. and our allies safe and free from harm. We are extremely excited to know that the care we are providing supports the mission of the Navy, the Department of Defense, and ultimately the loved ones of the military personnel on the aircraft carrier,” Fears said. In order to do that, there is one final team that is vital in this process: the lab team.

    To date, the lab team has performed over 1500 swab collections, all led by Lt. Clara Pangco, the lab team officer in charge. “I am responsible for verifying that Theodore Roosevelt personnel on Naval Base Guam meet their ‘return to work’ criteria by ensuring that swab samples are appropriately collected at the right time,” said Pangco.

    She and her team of fifteen Hospital Corpsmen are the gatekeepers for all COVID swabs and results. “My Corpsmen are in charge of safeguarding patient information and all collected samples. This includes following proper collection protocols, adhering to strict administrative controls and appropriately packaging samples in preparation for shipment,” said Pangco. “Although challenging, it is amazing to see how our team evolves and adapts to the ever-changing requirements of this mission. I have nothing but respect for Theodore Roosevelt Sailors as they remain resilient and flexible during this time.”

    Knapp, Townsend, Fears and Pangco are the unsung heroes of TF Medical, working tirelessly behind-the-scenes for their own Sailors, and Theodore Roosevelt Sailors, alike. They make the gears of the task force turn, all working towards one end state.

    “Applying the USMC’s Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2) model, Task Force Medical is a task-organized medical capability utilizing a tailored Marine Air-Ground Task Force structure. In our current scenario, apposite leaders drive mission success,” said 3rd Medical Battalion Commanding Officer Capt. Ronald Schoonover, in respect to his team. “Leaders for this task force were selected based on their observed abilities, as we recognized this situation would remain complex and transform over time. Their tenacity in the face of adversity, yet, professionalism and compassionate demeanor justify the strides we’ve made as Task Force Medical.”

    “Our focus is wholly on giving these sailors the best medical care we can provide every day,” Knapp said. “To us they are not just patients. These are our brothers and sisters in arms and we are fighting this battle together.”




    Date Taken: 04.28.2020
    Date Posted: 04.30.2020 03:05
    Story ID: 368835
    Location: NAVAL BASE GUAM, GU 

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