Joint Base Team comes together to support those in quarantine and isolation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jake Carter
  • Joint Base MDL Public Affairs

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States, protective measures have been implemented across the country to protect individuals from contracting the virus and flatten the curve.

One of the procedures implemented at the installation was the designation of certain lodging facilities to lodge those requiring isolation or quarantine as a result of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Disease Containment Plan.

The lodging facilities, temporarily known as “Camp JB MDL”, is for personnel unable to self-quarantine at their residence, single military members who would normally reside in on-base dorms with shared bathrooms, those attending pre-deployment training, and others as determined by the base public health team.

“The purpose of ‘Camp JB MDL’ is to ensure mission assurance and protect the base population and those individuals coming from locations requiring quarantine or those requiring quarantine determined by the base public health team,” said Senior Master Sergeant Michael Clark, Camp JB MDL superintendent. “The camp provides an ideal location for servicemen and women to physically distance themselves from others, while staying socially connected.”

Multiple units and agencies on base are contributing personnel to support care for quarantined or isolated individuals to ensure they receive food, support services and essential supplies. An AAFES Personal Shopper Plan was also established along with laundry & linen services, chaplain support, pharmacy assistance and Wi Fi connectivity.

The Joint Base MDL Chapel Team make periodic visits throughout the week to ensure everyone at “Camp JB MDL” knows they have people supporting them through the quarantine period.

“Our mission is to care for people, and we are still continuing to do that now on this new ‘front line’,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Raphael Berdugo, 87th Air Base Wing chaplain. “We are always here for everyone, no matter the situation, and we are proud to be doing this.”

Additionally, Halvorson Hall dining facility staff and augmentees from multiple base units ensure each member is provided proper nourishment to keep them fit to fight.

The Airmen at Halvorson Hall are preparing and boxing food for each quarantined member. To make it more enjoyable, customized meals are offered to make sure each individual can have the best eating experience.

Senior Master Sgt. Eric Lawlor, 87th Force Support Squadron food service section chief, and his staff hope what they are doing is having a positive impact for those individuals that when the pandemic comes to an end, those members can reflect and appreciate how other members rallied to help those in need. 

“Hopefully this can put a smile on their face, in addition to taking care of them and their needs to give them a morale boost,” said Lawlor. “If I was in their shoes, I’d want to come see who was supporting me with the food, changing my linens and taking away my trash. You can put a face to a name where it would be really cool and rewarding for both parties.”

The American Red Cross and United Services Organization have also assisted to provide service members across the installation with various supplies to ensure they have what they need during this critical time.

“The Red Cross has been one of the backbones of this effort of taking care of our service members while in quarantine, isolation and mission essential workers since day one,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kimberly Overturf, 87th Civil Engineer Group first sergeant. “They have aided us and let First Sergeants create over 300 Red Cross Care bags. They have a partnership with Starbucks which aided us in receiving over 150 gallons of milk and many meals and snacks prior to closing one of their locations.”

Also, unit leaders and supervisors are encouraged to keep daily communication with their personnel.

All of this effort was rapidly assembled and implemented within a few days and continues to adapt as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“The lodging and food operations teams quickly adapted their functions to support the quarantine requirement, and we pulled together augmented forces from various units on the base to support our fellow service members as they complete the required quarantine,” said Col. Dalian Washington, 87th Mission Support Group commander. “This has been a total team effort led by outstanding Airmen. I can’t thank our MSG team and augmentee forces enough for their efforts to provide essential services for those individuals in quarantine.”

The lodging facilities will remain operational until the public health emergency is over and Joint Base MDL returns to normal operations.

For more information on base involvement in COVID-19 response, please go to https://www.jbmdl.jb.mil/Coronavirus/.