By SSgt Alexandra Longfellow | 21ST SPACE WING PUBLIC AFFAIRS
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — With the recent pandemic of COVID-19, the Air Force isn’t taking the safety of others lightly. The 21st Medical Group at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, has been working diligently to stop the spread of the virus to the base population and its families.
The 21st MDG stood up the COVID-19 Point of Testing on Peterson AFB on 20 March 2020. The Point of Testing site is available to all 21st MDG enrollees of the 21st Space Wing, 50th SW and tenant units located on both installations.Testing is conducted at the Peterson car wash. Medical staff tests patients while they remain in their vehicles to limit exposure. The medical group advises not to go to the test site without an appointment.
In order to provide up to date information to our population, the medical group is in constant communication with the El Paso County Public Health Department. “We also have our Crisis Action Team stood up within our readiness section which serves as a tracking and information hub,” said Maj. William Timberlake, 21st MDG public health emergency officer. “This also allows us to have access to reach out to community partners.”
Timberlake said the biggest challenge during this pandemic, is ensuring access to care in an environment that provides safety for our patients and staff, while also being sensitive to and supporting our mission partners’ requirements. “We are finding innovative ways to accommodate our patients’ healthcare, such as increasing the number of virtual and telephone appointments, reducing traffic flow in and out of the clinic,” Timberlake said.
“The Point of Testing site also helps in this aspect by having a dedicated location for those members suspected of COVID-19 based on the screening criteria. Drive-through sampling sites are a critical part of the nation-leading program to test for COVID-19. We are continuously reassessing for ways to streamline virtual and in-person care across all functions of the medical group.” Timberlake and his team ask for patience during this time as the situation is constantly evolving and the medical group is continuously monitoring for guidance changes. “We are available and willing to answer your questions, but given the volume, it may take us some time to reply,” Timberlake said. “In the meantime, please educate yourselves on the Centers of Disease Control and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment websites as these resources are a great place to start if you have questions.”
The Public Health Emergency Officers at Fort Carson, United States Air Force Academy, Buckley, Peterson and Schriever AFB are in daily communications regarding COVID-19 activity and countermeasures. Additionally, the Colorado Health Market System has daily teleconferences to keep medical professionals in sync across the Front Range. The 21st MDG is in frequent contact with base leadership to provide expert advice with regards to protective measures and safeguards for our military, civilian and families to minimize exposure and the impact of COVID-19.
“Our public health section has performed site visits to evaluate processes and procedures for various units to include the child development center and the commissary,” Timberlake said. “Our bioenvironmental team is performing healthcare worker monitoring to help ensure the safety and well-being of our frontline medical staff. We are staying actively engaged against this invisible threat.” “The 21st MDG medics are an integral part of the Colorado
Springs community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Col Christopher Vaughn. “We are developing new ways to provide care to meet our population’s needs, prevent spread of the virus in our clinical areas, and reduce emergency room utilization by our patients. We are hopeful that these measures will flatten the curve significantly, allowing our local hospitals to provide life-saving care to the sickest patients.”
If you are concerned that you or someone in your family has been exposed to COVID-19 and are symptomatic (cough, shortness of breath and/or fever), please call (719) 524-2273 for an appointment. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Defense Coronavirus websites at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/ Coronavirus/. For the most up-to-date information on Peterson, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.