by Maj. William Carraway
The Georgia National Guard is partnering with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Community Health, and the Georgia Healthcare Association to send infection control teams to nursing homes around the state. The first of these teams departed the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga. March 31, 2020 bound for southwest Georgia.
“Our mission is to assist in disinfecting nursing homes,” said Col. John Till, safety officer for the Georgia Department of Defense who is training the teams. “We are going to help decontaminate and disinfect rooms in which these citizens are quarantined to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.”
Long-term care residents are vulnerable to illnesses that can be caused or exacerbated by Covid-19. The Georgia Department of Public Health notes that the number of cases in these facilities grows daily. Among the precautions advised by the Ga. DPH is frequent cleaning using disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Till, and members of his team utilize a disinfectant process which incorporates a solution that is approved for use by the EPA, and the protocols for treatment are in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Public Health. Till notes that his team can rapidly apply the disinfectant in facilities and has safely disinfected five buildings and more than 150 rooms at Georgia Guard facilities using the process.
“We are able to scale a number of teams as the demand requires” said Till. We will start with two teams who will then train all the teams that follow.”
The infection control teams are the latest example of innovation by Georgia National Guard leaders and planners. These teams did not exist a week ago but were constituted specifically to fulfill a critical requirement to ensure the public health. They follow in the footsteps of the Georgia National Guard’s medical assistance teams (MATS) who are presently embedded at hospitals across Georgia. The MATs, composed of Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen with backgrounds in medicine and health, were created and employed over the last two weeks.
“The Georgia National Guard stands ready to assist any long-term care facility in this time of need through staff training and implementation of infectious disease control measures,” said Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard. “Our training has prepared us to fight this virus, and we are eager to lend a hand in this battle.”
As of 9:00 am April 1, 2020, more than 600 service members of the Georgia Department of Defense are supporting Coronavirus response missions across the state. The Soldiers, Airmen, and State Defense Force volunteers are supporting MATs, foodbank operations, isolation facilities and staffing the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s State Operations Center in Atlanta.
The Georgia National Guard expects to send additional teams to nursing homes in south and northwest Georgia while continuing to work with state government and public and private institutions to save lives and alleviate suffering.