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Maryland Guard's Surgeon Details State COVID-19 Assistance

April 22, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Some 1,400 Maryland National Guard soldiers and airmen are on active duty, and 700 more are on enhanced standby, able to come on active duty within a matter of hours if called upon by the governor, the Maryland Guard's state surgeon said.

Of those called up, 73 are health and medical specialists who are now dealing with COVID-19, Army Col. (Dr.) Eric Allely told reporters by phone during a Pentagon news conference today regarding the Guard's COVID-19 efforts in his state.

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The Maryland Guard has visited about 40 of the 227 skilled-nursing homes throughout the state, as well as some children's facilities, he said. Skilled nursing homes are in-patient rehabilitation centers staffed with trained medical professionals. 

The visits are performed with multidisciplined Guard teams of health and medical specialists, Allely said, working closely with the Maryland Department of Health.

Several types of teams conduct the visits, Allely said. One does an overall assessment, one provides care, another works in behavioral health, and another provides medical testing and education. 

Soldier stands wearing a face mask.
Standing Soldier
Army Spc. Daniel Boback, a health care specialist with the Maryland Army National Guard’s 104th Medical Company Area Support, assists hospital staff at the COVID-19 testing site at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, April 14, 2020.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Devon Bistarkey, Maryland Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200414-Z-GG979-005M
Masked soldier talks on a cellphone at a desk.
Masked Call
Army Capt. Maya Nabors, a medical detachment representative assigned to the Maryland Army National Guard Medical Detachment, conducts an initial assessment by telephone at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation in Reisterstown, Md., with a nursing home facility to proactively support the Maryland Department of Health in the state's COVID-19 mitigation and suppression efforts, April 8, 2020.
Photo By: Army 1st Lt. Jennifer Alston, Maryland Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200408-A-UT495-711M

The behavioral health professionals are particularly important, the doctor said. "People need to be reassured," he explained. "They are experts at post-traumatic stress and are extremely well received."

Allely said the guardsmen do COVID-19 testing and turn the tests over to the Maryland Department of Health, which runs the tests at 10 a.m. daily. Results are provided the same day. The staff in the skilled-nursing homes he's visited are professionals and don't often get the credit due them, he added.

The health of the guardsmen is also important, he told reporters, noting that he's trying to ensure people are not working long hours and becoming fatigued. "This is not a sprint; it's a marathon," he said. "I take this very seriously."

A soldier wearing a face mask writes as he talks on a telephone.
Medical Assessment
Air Force Capt. Brett Vallecillo, a public health officer assigned to the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Medical Group, conducts an initial COVID-19 assessment by telephone at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation in Reisterstown, Md. with a nursing home facility to support the Maryland Department of Health in the state's COVID-19 mitigation and suppression efforts, April 8, 2020.
Photo By: Army 1st Lt. Jennifer Alston, Maryland Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200408-A-UT495-215M

The Maryland Guard also is supporting food distribution missions throughout the state. "For us, it's not just about handing out food," Allely said. "It's about being there in any way we can help."

Noting that the virtual online community is important to efforts to stop COVID-19, the state surgeon said guard officials are working cyber threat issues, ensuring that information is accurate and that people stay connected.