FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The training mission here continues, and installation leadership have been working to find ways to return a feeling of normalcy to the Fort Leonard Wood community while retaining necessary COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
Many precautionary measures remain in place – including the 60-mile travel restriction – but some amenities across post are reopening, to include certain Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities.
“We’ve got some great news,” said Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, April 29, referring to the Piney Valley Golf Course’s newly available tee times.
While driving carts are still not available and the snack bar remains closed, the clubhouse is open for limited occupancy – face masks must be worn in the clubhouse at all times.
Towns said he works daily with his team to review how best to bring back as many of the installation’s conveniences as possible while keeping health risks to a minimum.
“It’s a phased process for many of our FMWR facilities,” he said. “We are taking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense, Army and state and local guidance into account and then applying our own risk assessment of the specific activity or facility. We also take into account the local, state and regional data we are receiving.”
Towns said the goal is to reduce the probability of viral transmission using mitigation measures “that we have all become familiar with now: social distancing, hand washing and sanitizer stations, etc.”
“We then add facility or activity specific mitigation measures – like no touching the flagsticks at the golf course,” he added. “We have conducted this kind of analysis for all of our facilities and activities within the garrison.”
Fort Leonard Wood’s Davidson Fitness Center and Specker Gym are now open with some service and hours limited to make social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures possible. The new hours of operation, as well as safety measures in place, are posted to FMWR’s Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/mwr.ftwood/.
“We want to ask our patrons for patience as we reopen and continue to evaluate what works and what doesn’t,” said Katy Carter, FMWR Business and Recreation chief. “Of course, we will continue to listen to feedback while maintaining our goal to ensure the safety of both our patrons and our employees.”
Other amenities now open to service members are the Army & Air Force Exchange Service barber shops and salon. For everyone’s safety, social-distancing protocols limit the number of customers at any time in each facility. In addition, hair utensils, chairs and all other frequently touched surfaces are sanitized after each customer; barbers and salon employees wash their hands between appointments and wear face masks, gloves and smocks as well.
The many AAFES-run eateries on post remain open as take-out only due to the health risks currently posed by indoor dining areas. For updates on the status of AAFES locations on post, visit https://www.facebook.com/LeonardWoodExchange/.
At General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, the Primary Care Clinic is accepting in-person appointments at this time. While the GLWACH staff are still attempting to conduct appointments as over-the-phone “virtual-care visits” to lessen foot traffic in the hospital, patients who need to visit the clinic in person are being scheduled at staggered times, with those 50 years and older receiving earlier morning appointment times followed by well-baby visits for infants through six months in age in the early afternoon. All others follow.
The Post Exchange Pharmacy offers curbside service that, according to Dr. Nancy Alavanja, Pharmacy interim chief, helps with maintaining social distancing by allowing patients the ability to wait in their vehicles instead of congregating in the pharmacy.
Towns said although the timing has yet to be determined because it is significantly dependent on the prevalence of cases in the region, the next wave of MWR services to reopen with added mitigation measures could be the Auto Skills Center, the Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Area Marina and the Leisure Travel Office.
“The one final caveat I would make,” he added. “We have lifted the MWR hiring freeze that was in place for the last 60 days and we are actively recruiting for MWR employees.”
As the installation leadership continues to look for ways to return the feeling of normalcy to the Fort Leonard Wood community, safety is at the forefront of every discussion.
“While we miss our customers and are anxious to resume normal operations, our first priority must be the safety, security and health or our service members, families, the Fort Leonard Wood community and our amazing MWR team,” said Megan O’Donoghue, Fort Leonard Wood FMWR Services and Support chief.