VA » Health Care » Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center » Features » Navy reservists screen recruits at FHCC, RTC
Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
Navy reservists screen recruits at FHCC, RTC
By Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Minh-Thy Chu
Thursday, July 23, 2020“I’m just grateful to help during this time,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jon Doliana, a Navy Reserve Medicine sailor deployed to the COVID-19 Respiratory Clinic stood up by the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.
“I love being here doing whatever the Navy needs me to do,” said the reservist, from Nashville, Tenn.
As COVID-19 became a global concern, like other health care facilities, Lovell FHCC in North Chicago, Ill. altered many of its practices to safeguard patients and staff. However, the FHCC did not change its mission, best captured through the motto, “Readying Warriors, Caring for Heroes.” Since it was established in 2010 as the nation’s first fully integrated federal health care center in support of both the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, one of the FHCC’s main missions is medically preparing Navy recruits for military service. The pandemic has not diminished the need for military readiness, but it has greatly increased the amount of medical resources needed to accomplish that mission.
On June 3, a select team of 81 Navy Reserve Medicine personnel mobilized to FHCC and RTC as part of the Department of Defense’s response to the pandemic. Reservists were deployed from their hometowns and multiple units, including Expeditionary Medical Facility Bethesda, Md. and Naval Reserve Center Nashville, Tenn., to augment the fleet active component staff. The NRM team is led by Officer in Charge Capt. Rebecca Zornado from Oceanside, Calif. Teams consist of hospital corpsmen and members of the Medical Service Corps, Medical Corps, Nurse Corps, and other enlisted support staff including personnel support, and yeomen. As part of the strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the RTC boot camp population, the Navy imposed a 14-day, off-base restriction of movement period for all Navy recruits at a nearby lodge and hotels, prior to beginning their boot camp. The “pre-recruits” are checked daily by nursing staff for COVID-19 symptoms. The screening includes evaluation for both typical and atypical symptoms.
“It’s been a huge benefit having the reservists onboard,” said Cdr. Robert Senko, who is usually the director of Primary Care medicine at FHCC but has been overseeing the recruit ROM process since it was implemented. Senko said the reservists have “really taken the ball and run with it” when it comes to taking charge of the RTC respiratory clinics and sick call, as well as ROM medical procedures.
The nurses assigned to the staff teams supervise the delivery of care and nasopharyngeal swabbing procedures to ensure optimal screening standards and appropriate use of personal protective equipment, which all medical staff in direct contact with recruits utilize. The family nurse practitioners are also responsible for screening, diagnosing, and treating recruits. As FHCC begins to allow more face-to-face appointments with veteran patients, and a larger volume of recruits will be entering the ROM period, the extra manpower is necessary to provide RTC with adequate medical support.
In addition to the extra effort needed to control the spread of COVID-19, FHCC’s normal recruit health and dental care mission continues, which involves about 40,000 recruits annually. The facility operates three RTC Branch Medical Clinics. At USS Red Rover, recruits undergo processing days filled with medical tasks, including immunizations, before being declared fit for full duty. USS Osborne provides a full spectrum of dental services for recruits, and USS Tranquility is the busiest of the clinics, with services from sick call to mental health care and special physicals. The reservists have lightened the load.
“To hear how pleased the active duty team here is, that we’re doing our job and doing it well, that to me is so motivating,” Zornado said when asked what she thinks is most rewarding about being deployed to Great Lakes.
Each reserve team implemented standard operating procedures for health protection in their work environment, including PPE. The NRM Nurse Corps members used innovation to educate their teams on a novel disease process in an unprecedented circumstance; these best practices will guarantee lasting benefits to successive medical events, Zornado said.
When asked what the biggest challenge of being deployed to Great Lakes during the COVID-19 pandemic is, Hospitalman Chief Lisa Tran doesn’t hesitate in her answer.
“Keeping up with the current research, which may change the next day, and keeping our corpsmen trained on the best medicine, the best practice at the time is somewhat of a challenge,” said Tran, a reservist from Houston, Texas. “But it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
As long as they are needed, reservists will continue to augment the FHCC and RTC staff, and new replacements will take the place of those whose assignments are ending.