JRM helping GovGuam with COVID surge; 15 military nurses coming to help out

Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson (US Navy photo)

The military is doing its part to help the government of Guam deal with the current COVID-19 surge, including a team of 15 military nurses that will be coming to Guam before the end of the month to help out.

Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson, the commander of Joint Region Marianas, said there is a lot of coordination that goes on between the military’s public health experts in Naval Hospital and the government of Guam experts.

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“Also, the governor and I have a standing call every week where we talk and discuss these items. Our Naval Hospital is involved in the process. We have not seen as many recently, but a couple of weeks ago, quite a number of patients from the community were coming to our Naval Hospital for treatment. And so we actually adjusted our set-up at Naval Hospital to expand our ICU capacity for a time there to account for that,” Nicholson said in an interview with NewsTalk K57’s Patti Arroyo.

The admiral said they’ve also been working with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to make sure that if there are other resources that are needed in the community, the military can help with that.

“And most recently, what we’re seeing here towards the end of the month is there are some military nurses that are coming in to assist with local community hospitals. And they’ll be here for a period of time to assist with the manpower needed to treat the cases.” Nicholson said.

In addition, Nicholson said GovGuam can tap any excess medical capacity from the mainland.

“And it works through a process where the governor requests through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for some additional assistance, and then FEMA will take that request. And they will not always, but often, pass that to the Department of Defense. In this case, the Department of Defense has responded and there are 15 military nurses that will be here. I believe the 29th is when they’re due to arrive and they’ll be here for about 30 days, and that’s extendable if needed,” Nicholson said.

He added: “And that is what’s called a mission assignment that FEMA handed over to the Department of Defense to fulfill that mission assignment. That’s what’s going on right now. There could be some future ones if requested.”