Military medical team supports Guam’s fight vs COVID-19

Posted on Sep 29 2020


Army Maj. Michael Switzer, a pulmonary critical care physician, checks a patient’s charts in the intensive care unit of Guam Memorial Hospital.

ASAN, Guam—In response to the government of Guam’s continuing efforts to address the recent growth in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the island, 22 military medical professionals have been integrated with the Guam Memorial Hospital staff to supplement COVID-19 medical care and response.

Elements of the joint service team, consisting of Army and Air Force medical professionals, arrived in Guam starting Sept. 2 and began preparations for assisting local medical professionals in the fight against COVID-19.

“We have been working closely with the government of Guam since COVID’s arrival [in] Guam in March, and we are proud to be able to provide additional medical assistance to the community in which we live and work,” said Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander, Joint Region Marianas. “In the spirit of collaboration, JRM and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have executed a Defense Support for Civil Authorities agreement with GovGuam and, through this avenue, we are able to augment the island’s available health care staff with a specialized medical team for COVID-19 patients.”

Elements of the joint service medical team, composed of service members assigned to the 47th Combat Support Hospital at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and the 673rd Medical Support Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, began work at GMH last Sept. 3. Both units provided critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, respiratory technicians, internists and intensivists to support GMH’s efforts amid a rise in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Army 1st Lt. Reynalynn Palanca, a critical care registered nurse, replaces intravenous drip lines in the intensive care unit of Guam Memorial Hospital.

During their time at GMH, the medical team has provided critical care and rehabilitation to approximately 70 patients to date, providing invaluable assistance to Guam’s medical professionals and reinforcing the mutually beneficial civilian-military relationship in Guam and throughout the region.

“This is a historic time for the territory of Guam when the Department of Defense can bring in some of its most highly trained medical professionals and work alongside the best medical professionals in Guam,” said Jeffrey Barone, deputy defense coordinating officer-West. “Guam is home to all of the services, to include the U.S. Coast Guard, and we all claim Guam as our home and have a desire to see this COVID pandemic come to an end—and it will—with all of us working together.”

The team is scheduled to continue providing medical support until the end of this month when the duration of the FEMA mission assignment for the team’s medical support will be complete.

Members of the team were in known COVID-free environments before traveling to Guam and received negative COVID-19 test results before being permitted to begin work at GMH. (PR)

Army Capt. Jason Ray, a critical care nurse, compares notes with a Guam Memorial Hospital staff member in a GMH care unit.

Press Release
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