By Aleah M. Castrejon | Mountaineer editor
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson’s 627th Hospital Center (HC) deployed about 200 medical personnel near Seattle March 27, 2020, to assist local hospitals.
“We’re excited to support this mission,” said Lt. Col. Jason Hughes, commander 10th Field Hospital, 627th Hospital Center. “This is why we exist and why we signed up to serve, it’s a blessing for us to go serve the American people here on our home soil.”
This response is part of the whole-of-nation approach to fighting COVID-19. The Army is working with interagency partners – including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DOD Military Health System and others to support and protect the military force and the American people.
The troops will set up a hospital center where FEMA directs, which will function fully equipped with an emergency room, intensive care units, intermediate care wards, operating room, x-ray lab and microbiology capabilities, physical therapy, occupational health and ministry services, Hughes said.
“The Soldiers are super motivated about this and support the U.S. people … we train everyday to do this in our medical treatment facilities (MTF) … our medics run through (MTFs and) our doctors work day-to-day with patient care, Hughes said. “Now we get to go out there and support the American people, and that’s exciting for us.”
Maj. Ken Gonzales, senior laboratory officer, 627th Hospital Center, said the HC is “scalable” with the capability to grow up to 248 hospital beds, but will start with 132 beds.
“The initial 32 beds will go up in 72 hours, and as we continue (put beds up), that’s another four days … a total of about six-seven days,” Hughes said.
Army Medicine is in full support of the Army’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is synchronizing all medical resources to ensure our Soldiers and the American people are safe.
“A lot of the younger Soldiers — this is their first deployment,” Hughes said. “So it’s a good introduction to the Army and what we do. We exist to save and sustain lives worldwide: whether it’s a deployed environment … or Washington state.”
It is critical for community members to strictly follow practices established by the CDC that have proven effective at containing the spread of COVID-19. This includes simple practices such as maintaining social distancing, washing your hands frequently and staying home when feeling ill.
Safety is a No. 1 priority, Hughes said, and like any other hospital, the 627th HC will follow the CDC guidelines. The 627th HC Soldiers were screened before the flight, he added.
“(The 627th HC is a) ready medical force to make Soldiers medically ready moving forward,” Gonzales said.
The HC will assist the local hospitals in order to take the strain off the local hospital staff, he added.
While Gonzales believes this will be an enduring mission, he said, “I have been very impressed with the medical professionals in this unit … What you see at the 627th (HC) and what you see of the Army today, are the next-evolution requirements. The Army is ahead of the curve on … brain power.”