CT National Guard pitches in to help clinics tend to long COVID-19 testing lines

Connecticut

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut National Guard has largely been behind the scenes since the end of the first COVID wave. Now, they are visibly back, helping community clinics like Fair Haven Health Care deal with long lines of patients who need testing.

There are three National Guardsmen swabbing, enrolling and assisting patients at the clinic’s Grand Avenue testing site. 

“Our staff is tired. They’re depleted. We have folks who unfortunately have families that are testing positive and so they’re helping to keep us whole and keep us going,” said Dr. Everett Lamm, Vice President of Clinical Affairs for Fair Haven Community Health Care.

So this week, help arrived in the form of guardsmen taking on some of the burden that Dr. Everett Lamm’s frontline workers have been shouldering for months, as they work around the clock to serve a hard-hit community even as positivity rates climb, and demand for testing explodes.

“Those numbers have tripled. And almost quadrupled over the last couple of weeks,” said Dr. Lamm of the demand.

Guardsmen are now at 25 locations throughout the state, and officials say the requests for help continue to pour in.

“Whether we’re seen or unseen, running distribution operations, helping the state, supporting the department of public health, making sure the people of the state have what they need,” said Connecticut National Guard Spokesperson David Pytlik.

With boots on the ground already, the cavalry can now be seen on the horizon.

“We believe we’re going to be getting vaccine probably in the next two weeks,” Dr. Lamm, “We’re also testing at eight of the local nursing homes.”

With the CDC announcing healthcare workers and nursing home residents will likely be the first vaccine recipients, Dr. Lamm’s staff is mobilizing for one, hopefully final, battle.

“We imagine we’re going to be going into a period over the next couple weeks as we get even closer to the holidays, where we’re going to be testing and we’re going to be vaccinating, and we’re just lining up our staff to be able to handle it all.”

Meanwhile, to help accommodate longer lines Fair Haven Community Health Care is moving around the corner on Thursday to 293 East Street. The larger building will keep patients more comfortable as the weather gets colder.

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