TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Honolulu – As the nation enters its ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tripler Army Medical Center’s collection site at Fort Shafter Flats continues to provide DoD beneficiaries with the ability to get tested in a drive-thru.
“Thanks to the ingenuity of leadership and a group of dedicated non-commissioned officers, the site has seen numerous process improvements since we began screening and testing in March,” said Capt. Justin Jay, a former battle captain at Tripler’s COVID Operations Cell.
Where there once was a single lane, three lanes are now operable, allowing staff to see patients visually at all times and providing additional space for queuing vehicles. The new design has more than doubled the capacity of the site since its inception nine months ago, allowing upwards of 200 patients per day to be tested.
A mix of combat medical professionals and nurses from numerous Tripler departments make up the staff at the site. These individuals are gaining valuable field experience in customer service, decision making and developing standard operating procedures, according to hospital staff.
“It’s been a great work experience for privates and specialists to gain access to other enlisted Soldiers within a traditional rank structure,” said Sgt. Joseph Turk, former shift lead for Tripler’s Composite Health Care System team.
Since opening in March, the safety of patients and staff has been at the forefront of all operations at the site. Physicians from Tripler’s Emergency Department have trained staff in the use of N95 masks, personal protective equipment, and swabbing.
Testing orders must be placed in the system by a provider prior to arriving at the site. TRICARE Prime beneficiaries can get orders from their primary care provider, and TRICARE Select beneficiaries can contact the COVD Hotline at 1-888-MTF-APPT. Pre-operative patients should have their orders placed in the system by their surgeon.
At the site, patients are asked to wear a mask at all times; vehicles must be placed in ‘park’ at each station. Signs are in place to guide patients through the site. Windows should remain closed until patients are asked to roll them down to show their ID card. The nasal swab can be uncomfortable and causes some people to sneeze or cough, which should be done in the opposite direction of the medic if possible.
Collected swabs are maintained in temperature controlled coolers and driven to the Tripler laboratory every two hours after a thorough verification process.
The Fort Shafter Flats testing site is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m.-noon. On federal holidays, the site is open from 9 a.m.-noon. Testing staff recommends coming Tuesday-Thursday for shorter wait times.
More information can be found at https://www.tamc.amedd.army.mil/FtShafterFlats_TestingSite.htm
To watch a video about the COVID-19 testing process, visit: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/772725/getting-tested-covid-military-beneficiary-oahu