NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- To help fight the spread of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, Naval Dental Clinic Norfolk staff members implemented a Mobile Car Triage testing process, currently operating out of the NAS Norfolk Air Passenger Terminal for the Hampton Roads area, on May 7.
The mobile process was set in place to aid and offset patient traffic coming to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) by having an additional testing site. Additionally, the site is used to test active duty military pre-deploying personal and deployment returnees from different areas OCONUS.
“We have set up a mobile COVID-19 testing site for the Navy fleet in the Hampton Roads area,” said Cmdr. Gustavo Lores, AMC Terminal Norfolk test site lead. “Our main location is the AMC terminal at Norfolk Naval Station. We are a mobile force consisting of, for right now, corpsmen of the dental tech rating. We were trained by the Emergency Department at NMCP to be able to perform this mission.”
The mobile unit is able to transport materials and personnel to different areas, including the flight line and ship piers, at any of the Hampton Roads military installations.
“We are definitely improving the access to care for patients in Norfolk,” Lores said. “If patients are, for whatever reason, unable to get to NMCP to be tested, they are tested by us here.”
The unit had been recently tasked to do the retesting of the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH20) deployment returnees from New York. They conduct testing while patients sit in their cars.
“We have seen an average of up to 18 patients per hour per station,” Lores said. “Today, 30 patients were scheduled to be tested. We also are able to accommodate large buses and vans of patients. We could see up to 200 personnel per day with the USNS Comfort staff returning. ”
When drive-thru testing for COVID-19 was first implemented, it was quickly adopted worldwide. By keeping potentially sick patients in their cars and allowing plenty of ventilation, the risk of spreading COVID-19 is drastically reduced.
“I’m extremely proud of my team,” Lores said. “We were able to get trained quickly to be able to answer the call to fight the spread. We are happy to be doing something that is meaningful for the command.”
As the U.S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating military hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally-acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, along with the area's 10 branch health and TRICARE Prime Clinics, provide care for the Hampton Roads area. The medical center also supports premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman for future roles in healing and wellness.
For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.