FORT KNOX, Ky. — There was no ribbon cutting or fanfare April 6, but the opening of the Nelson Troop Medical Clinic here is considered to be as vital to the health of the Fort Knox community as its parent organization — Ireland Army Health Clinic.Despite not having a brand new building in which to celebrate, leaders still hosted a grand opening for Nelson TMC.“I am so proud of this team,” said Col. Hugh Mclean Jr., commander of Medical Department Activity, Fort Knox, and Ireland Army Health Clinic. “The Nelson TMC opening received tremendous support from [U.S. Army] Cadet Command, and garrison commanders, and the units on post.”“The Fort Knox community all worked together, and Ireland [noncommissioned officers] got the job done quickly,” he added. “The Nelson Clinic is an excellent example of how MEDDAC leans forward to meet the medical needs of the Fort Knox community.”Prior to Monday, few outside the Ireland family knew of the clinic’s beginnings. It has also been called the “respiratory clinic” and, according to Staff Sgt. Mark Myers, assistant NCO in charge, the “COVID-19 response support patient treatment clinic.”Leaders opened it as a preparatory measure to separate patients with different types of respiratory ailments from those who have non-respiratory illnesses: the goal, to prevent possible spreading of the disease.Most importantly, Nelson’s opening is part of Ireland’s proactive effort to improve patient access to respiratory care in response to COVID-19 and to keep the number of cases to a minimum, said Myers. Currently, Fort Knox and Harden County have a low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases compared to other parts of the United States.“[We] set up the clinic to receive patients that have booked appointments and have respiratory illnesses, issues and ailments,” said Myers. “But, we also opened the clinic to receive diverted patients who are suspected to screen positive for COVID-19 and coronavirus.”“What we’re attempting to do here with the Nelson Troop Medical Clinic is make this a respiratory-only clinic,” said Lt. Col. Doug Dudewicz, deputy commander for Clinical Services at Ireland. “The staff at Nelson have the proper equipment and the proper training, and what we’re doing is isolating people that have respiratory conditions from patients and employees who are at the regular clinic.“We’re trying to keep those two populations separated as much as possible.”Patients should always call the appointment line, said Dudewicz. When they do, they will be asked screening questions for possible respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.“Our staff is speaking to patients on the phone, whether it’s our call center or they’re talking to one of our nurses in primary care. If the patient has respiratory symptoms and they are someone who needs an appointment, that appointment will take place at Nelson,” said Dudewicz. “Whereas, someone who twisted their ankle and has a problem walking will be seen at the regular Ireland clinic.”Every year, Nelson TMC provides health care to cadre and cadets from May to August in support of the ROTC Cadet Summer Training mission. During that time, it becomes a full service primary care clinic with adult and pediatric providers, multiple exam rooms, medication dispensing, and lab/x-ray capability.“I have every confidence in Ireland’s ability to react to COVID-19, and Nelson is going to help with the treatment of those patients,” said Myers.The hallways were void of patients on day 1, though bustling with staff activity. According to Dudewicz, the two providers at Nelson TMC can accommodate up to 40 patients a day.“Given this is the first day, and our staff, the call center and everybody else is getting used to it, I would expect today to be a little bit slower of a start,” he said. “We try to do it by appointment only — nobody wants a line of people because of social distancing — so we have scheduled appointments throughout the day; at any given time, there is only one or two patients in the clinic at a time, spaced out over the entire day.”If needed, patients who visit the Nelson TMC are also given appropriate treatment and guidance on how to quarantine or isolate for 14-days in their quarters or homes, the time recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that time, they should symptomatically monitor themselves for headaches, cough, fever and more.Patients should return to their medical providers if symptoms worsen, though medical officials are asking them to call first. For an appointment, call Ireland’s appointment lines at 502-626-9997.