HARRISBURG — Two local Army National Guard members are on a unique, first-of-its-kind team formed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I am normally serving with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Washington, Pa., but I was mobilized to come to Harrisburg to work on this team,” said Lt. Veronica Guilyard, of DuBois. “I work as an administrator in my civilian life but medical planning is my job in the military.”
Capt. Ashley Dotson, of Coudersport, works as a psychologist as a civilian and in the military with the 28th Infantry Division’s surgeon cell.
“It’s been a good experience,” said Dotson. “I have a spot on the planning team but I also go out and talk with our soldiers working in the (long-term care) homes. It’s a new experience for some of them and I play a role in supporting their efforts and the stress of grief they may be dealing with.”
The planning team does assessments where there are medical needs requested through emergency management, and then plans how to meet those needs.
“A long-term care facility may be under-resourced and we can put Guardsmen in to help,” said Lt. Col. Mark Thomas, 28th Infantry Division planner. “It could be for general purposes, cleaning, laundry, feeding, or it could be our medical personnel. We always make sure they are trained and they have personal protective equipment.”
Thomas said it’s not just helping in homes. The planners have had personal protective equipment shipped and delivered where needed and testing sites set up in hard-hit areas.
“It is a unique, one-of-a-kind team that has never been done before,” said Thomas. “They are both Army and Air Force, medics, psychologists, nurses, doctors, logisticians and more. It’s a great representation of the talent in our ranks.”