Virginia Air National Guard Doctors support Ebola medical monitoring program

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski
  • Virginia Joint Force HQ Public Affairs
Doctors are often known to give of their time and their energy selflessly but four Air National Guard Doctors went above and beyond as both civilian doctors and National Guard members as they volunteered on their days off, often over nights, weekends and even over the holidays at the Langley Transit Center. 

The LTC is a controlled-monitoring area that was established to house and medically monitor military and civilian personnel returning from missions in Ebola Virus Disease outbreak areas in West Africa. Returning personnel are required to undergo a 21-day screening period before being released to return to their home stations. The medical monitoring program was established in accordance with guidance from the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"This was a great mission combining active-duty and reserve as we had Air Force, Air National Guard, Navy and Marines, as well as civilians serving," said Lt. Col. Michael E. Renforth, 192nd Medical Squadron Chief of Medical Services. "It's a chance to give back and allow those people who gave so much to have the care they deserved."

The first group of 90 people was accommodated at LTC in November 2014, and since then, LTC medical teams have successfully monitored 415 Department of Defense service members and civilians.

The LTC is made up of 21 buildings including dormitories, bathroom and shower facilities, a fitness center, a cafeteria, and an entertainment and recreation center, which were all built and managed by 633rd Air Base Wing personnel.

The 633rd Medical Group personnel supported the controlled monitoring efforts by organizing, staffing and running the medical monitoring at the LTC. Navy medical personnel assigned to the Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford and the 192nd Medical Group helped assist in those efforts; along with two Air Force civilians from the Public Health office who helped support medical monitoring efforts. The seamless collaboration between these units is what made the stand-up and execution of LTC successful.

"The most important part of having the LTC at Langley was it provided a real-world opportunity for Virginia Air National Guard members and the active duty Air Force to work together on a joint tasking," said Col. Frank Yang, Virginia Air National Guard State Air Surgeon.

The composition of the medical staff during the screenings usually consisted of two or three medical technicians, a public health technician and a public health officer. The medical monitoring consisted of twice daily symptom and temperature checks by trained medical personnel.

During the morning sick call, a provider was present to see patients for any issues they may have. The providers also had the ability to order medications from the medical tent at LTC and the Langley Hospital pharmacy would deliver the medications the same day.
"We are always looking for ways to support the active duty Air Force," said Renforth. "We all want to do great things to contribute and support those who are just waiting to return to their homes, so volunteering was a great opportunity to do just that."

"The attitudes of the personnel monitored at LTC were so good as they came back from serving in West Africa and just wanted to be with their family, especially over the Holidays. It really was the least we could do to be there to support them," said Renforth.

Medical staff that volunteered at LTC were required to undergo training with Public Health. The depth of training each volunteer required was dependent on the function they would be serving at the LTC. Doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners went through the most extensive training to ensure they were familiar with the established protocols in place in the rare case that they did have a patient who presented with symptoms of Ebola. These protocols included everything from isolation and transport procedures for a suspected patient to selecting the appropriate type personal protective equipment and how to don and doff it.

The DoD designated seven controlled monitoring installations--five within the continental U.S. and two OCONUS. The Langley Transit Center was the first to receive service members returning from Liberia. The locations of the monitoring installations were: Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Hampton, Virginia; Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas; Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas; USAG Baumholder, Germany; and Caserma Del Din, Vicenza, Italy.