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    Michigan National Guard assists long term care facilities; dept. of corrections in COVID-19 testing

    Michigan National Guard assists long term care facilities; dept. of corrections in COVID-19 testing

    Photo By Master Sgt. David Eichaker | Michigan National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from various units conduct COVID-19...... read more read more

    SAULT STE. MARIE, MI, UNITED STATES

    05.13.2020

    Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker 

    Michigan National Guard

    SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.—Members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard are sweeping across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.), assisting long--term care and correctional facilities in testing employees and prisoners.

    “The Michigan Army and Air National Guard have been asked by the state to support the Michigan State Police (MSP) and Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) in facilitating testing of inmates at designated correctional facilities to ensure the health and welfare of vulnerable populations,” said Army Capt. Michael Anderson, 107th Engineer Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard. “In just a couple of weeks, we have tested more than 7,300 inmates at six different correctional facilities.”

    The joint Guard members, known as Task Force Tiger, have been working in conjunction with the governor’s office to complete the COVID-19 testing requirements that have been established for high-risk facilities.

    “The prisons are close-quarter facilities that we have concerns about along with our long--term care facilities,” said Army Col. Chris McKinney, brigade commander, 177th Military Police Brigade, Michigan Army National Guard. “We’re working through the Upper Peninsula to try to make sure we test as many inmates as possible to be able to make sure that they are healthy and safe.”

    Chippewa Correctional Facility, located near Sault Ste. Marie, was able to experience the National Guard’s presence first-hand and the impact the Guard brought to that facility.

    “By partnering with the National Guard, we have this opportunity to test more than 2,300 prisoners here within our population,” said Connie Horton, warden, Chippewa Correctional Facility. “This is a huge undertaking and with the assistance of the National Guard, we were able to accomplish this in just one day.”

    “Even though this is our first mission with the National Guard, we worked very well together and it’s been a very smooth transition from the moment the Guard members arrived,” said Horton.

    With a monumental task of testing long term care facilities and correctional facilities throughout the U.P., only specific Guard members are actually trained to conduct the test.

    “Only qualified Army and Air National Guard medics are physically performing the tests and taking samples,” said Anderson. “The additional Guard members are assisting with sanitizing equipment, administrative tracking, and the distribution of personal protective equipment.”

    Not only were Guard members conducting the testing, they were using their expertise in training others how to provide testing.

    “Our unit facilitated training, testing and administering COVID-19 tests to select long term care facilities to ensure the health and welfare of vulnerable populations,” said Anderson. “We also provided the necessary training to key staff for future testing of their residents.”

    The D. J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, located in Marquette, also experienced the assistance of the National Guard.

    “We would have to take staff away from their mission of serving our members to conduct the testing for our staff,” said Ron Oja, administrator for the D. J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. “It serves a terrific purpose to have the Guard here that is familiar with the process.”

    “I don’t have to go through and retrain any of the nurses that would be administering tests and I have someone that is familiar with the process and is going to be able to process our staff efficiently,” said Oja.

    The support from the Guard hasn’t gone unappreciated during these trying times either.

    “We wouldn’t be able to do a mission this large, on this scale, without their assistance,” said Horton. “We’re very fortunate to have the National Guard here and very blessed.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.13.2020
    Date Posted: 05.13.2020 14:49
    Story ID: 369914
    Location: SAULT STE. MARIE, MI, US 

    Web Views: 282
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN