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178th Airmen provide COVID-19 testing to local community members

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amber Mullen
  • 178th Wing

Four members assigned to the 178th Wing augmented staff members of Centerpoint Health at the Community Building Institute June 17, 2020 to help with drive-thru Coronavirus testing of local community members.

Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Berzes-Vaughn, the superintendent of Dental Services in the 178th Medical Group, served as the squad team lead and helped facilitate the community testing and oversee the Ohio National Guard members onsite. Staff Sgt. Christina Pumphrey, a medical technician assigned to the 178th Medical Group, Staff Sgt. Luis Morales, a dental technician assigned to the 178th Medical Group, and Tech. Sgt. Diane Broadnax, a medical technician assigned to the 123rd Air Control Squadron, verified patient information and performed the COVID-19 nasal swab tests.

“The community members check in with Centerpoint Health and they are given a bag and lab requisition form,” said Berzes-Vaughn. “Once they get to the testing pod, they’ll be swabbed in each nostril [by our Ohio National Guard members] and then the swab goes into the reagent. Then we’ll make sure the patient identifiers are on the sample and properly stored until they are ready to be sent to the lab.”

On June 11, Governor Mike DeWine announced that anyone in Ohio could receive a Coronavirus test even if they were low risk or not showing symptoms. Recent data showed an upward trend in Coronavirus cases in southwest Ohio. This initiated the creation of pop up testing sites statewide. With the increased demand for individuals seeking a COVID-19 test, the Ohio National Guard was able to help provide support to their fellow Ohioans.

“[The testing] is going to be able to save lives by being able to do contact tracing,” said Berzes-Vaughn. “It’s really important for us to be able to help out our community.”

The 178th Wing members worked alongside three Ohio Army National Guard medics from the 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the 285th Medical Company. The Airmen and Soldiers teamed up in groups of two and were in charge of verifying patient information, performing nasal swab COVID-19 testing, and properly packaging and storing the testing specimens. The Ohio National Guard members partnered up with Centerpoint Health, who were in charge of facilitating the drive-thru testing event and getting patients checked in.

“It’s been a great opportunity to be out in the community and talking to patients that come through the drive-thru for testing,” said Morales. “I think it’s important for us to come out here and help out the community in a time of need.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, Ohio National Guard members remain ready to assist their State when called upon. Being able to serve their community in times of need is a reason why many Airmen and Soldiers chose to join the Guard.

“I think it's important for the National Guard to be out in the community because a lot of people don't know what we do or who we are,” said Pumphrey. “Coming out here and helping out, lets them know that we are here to help our State and our country in times of need. Being able to give back is the reason why I joined the Guard. I am thankful for this opportunity to help out in any way that I can.”