FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 17, 2020) --Lawton Mayor Stan Booker visited Reynolds Army Health Clinic (RAHC) Dec. 11, to honor the entire staff as they battle the pandemic.Booker had introduced a proclamation during a city council meeting last week which designated the 11th as Healthcare Heroes Day for all local medical centers.The proclamation was signed by him, all council members, and community leaders, including Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general.“This is a wonderful day for the mayor to acknowledge all of our healthcare heroes at Reynolds Army Health Clinic,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Huxel, RAHC deputy commander for Nursing and Ancillary Services. “They’ve been working furiously to meet the COVID-19 mission as have healthcare workers in the region because we are all in this together. We all need each other.”Booker said the pandemic has made the general population realize the importance of healthcare workers in peoples’ lives.“The healthcare community is so vital and never before in the history of my lifetime has it received so much attention,” he said. “The proclamation is to let you know how much we appreciate you.”The mayor then read the entire proclamation to a group of about 40 Reynolds staff members gathered outside the command suite.Part of the proclamation stated that all levels of staffing at each hospital, healthcare center, and emergency response team in our community has proven that they are more than just essential workers, that they are frontline heroes for all of Southwest Oklahoma.After the reading, Col. David Zinnante, RAHC commander, presented Booker with his coin of excellence. Booker reciprocated by handing out “I Love Lawton Fort Sill” lapel pins to the audience.The oversized city proclamation is on display at RAHC’s east entrance.COVID challengesSince the pandemic began RAHC staff, which numbers over 800, has experienced many challenges, Huxel said. The clinic is performing all COVID testing for service members, families, and Department of the Army civilians.RAHC medics swab every trainee who arrives at the 434th Field Artillery Brigade for basic combat training, Huxel said. “We average 200 (trainees) every day.”The RAHC medical laboratory is working 24/7 because of all the testing, said Joel McFarland, RAHC public affairs officer.The RAHC Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staff has been performing contact tracing on patients with COVID, Huxel said. It can be very time intensive.One positive case can lead to contacting over 100 people who may have had contact with that patient, she said.Clinic staff members have volunteered or been reassigned from their jobs to work in the EOC to perform the contact tracing, McFarland said.The RAHC staff is also manning a COVID hotline to answer any concerns people may have, Huxel said.Staff members are doing all this while taking care of themselves and their families, she said.VaccinesWhen RAHC receives the COVID-19 vaccines they will be administered following DoD guidelines, McFarland said.First responders, i.e., firefighters, emergency medical technicians, security personnel, etc., will be the first to get the vaccine, Huxel said. Next, healthcare workers would get immunized followed by the community.A lot depends on how many doses RAHC receives, McFarland added.The largest DoD medical treatment facilities will be the first to get the vaccines, Huxel said.She said there is no definite timeline when RAHC will receive the vaccines, however, it might happen before the end of the year.