ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Cope North (CN) 2022 ends this Friday, Feb. 18, and service members from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force will return safely to their perspective home stations thanks to the 36th Medical Group’s (MDG) COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The 36th MDG created a COVID-19 Testing Center to directly support CN 22 operations to help keep supporting service members healthy and capable to work.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Ebony Mulero, the officer in charge of the COVID-19 testing center at the 36th MDG, said that by the end of CN 22, the CTC will have tested more than 2,100 COVID-19 test in support of Cope North and base populace members.
“With nearly 3,200 additional members on island, we are focused on ensuring those arriving and departing mitigate risk of COVID transmission,” Mulero said. “It is imperative to our partner islands that we strive to protect their local population. The CTC has tested nearly every participant traveling on and off island, ensuring Andersen AFB is doing everything we can to prevent positive patients from deploying to places like the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands, Palau, Tinian, and Rota.”
To help minimize wait times for local and CN 22 patients 36th MDG healthcare providers see, additional appointment slots and locations were developed to absorb incoming USAF, USN, USMC, RAAF and JASDF service members.
“This allowed us to test deployers quickly, minimizing their downtime and returning them to the mission,” Mulero said. “Most importantly, we wanted to ensure continued testing availability to those who are sick, traveling Temporary Duty, or Permanent Change of Station to their next duty location.”
The 36th MDG provides testing, as well as monitoring and validating all pertinent details surrounding any positive cases for reporting to Guam Department of Health and Social Services, the USAF and the Department of Defense according to USAF Staff Sgt. Jessica Hughes, a public health technician assigned to the 36th MDG. Public Health also assisted RAAF and JASDF members understand local policies and guidance, while integrating observation requirements utilized with 36 Wing Airmen.
“We maintain over 30 distinct details on each positive case through investigations, provide information in a way so it can be understood, and try to keep the base and island safe while ensuring mission success.” USAF Staff Sgt. Jessica Hughes said, a public health technician assigned to the 36th MDG. “We know that by equipping our allies and partners with knowledge, we are empowering them to succeed. Strengthening our foreign relations ultimately helps all of us succeed.”
Additional support was given to the 36th MDG by augmentee support, helping the 36th MDG drive further towards supporting CN 22 and Guam health beneficiaries.
“The last two years, it has been a whirlwind,” Hughes said. “Without the continued support of 36 Wing and the 36th MDG leadership, we couldn’t do what we do. Augmentees throughout different Air Force Specialty Codes have been selected and became a great addition to the Public Health family.
Mulero ended with a word of thanks, with a couple of mentions that were important to her to say.
“As the leads for the COVID Testing Center, USAF Capt. Maygen Farber and I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone involved in making sure our operations run like a well-oiled machine,” Mulero said. “There are specific shout-outs that we would like to make as well. We’d like to thank the medical technicians, medical administrators, and CTC staff who have tirelessly worked long hours to assist with swabbing, our background heroes, and the amazing laboratory team. The 624th Aerospace Medicine Flight for letting us essentially takeover their work center so that we can efficiently conduct Cope North support operations. Most importantly, we’d like to say thank you to all Andersen Clinic beneficiaries, for their patience and understanding as we navigate testing in this new era of COVID-19 and military operations.”