FORT MCCOY, Wis., – Soldiers assigned to Task Force McCoy’s medical team are doing their part to help Afghan evacuees meet their immunization and vaccine requirements to continue their immigration process at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, on Operation Allies Welcome.
Col. Matthew Fandre, task force surgeon for the McCoy task force, spoke about the purpose of the medical team.
“Our main goal here is to take care of our customers and all of their health care needs as well as health protection,” said Fandre. “The other main objective is to help the immigration process through customs and immigration services; There is a medical examination which includes a brief history and physical examination, as well as any screening for infectious diseases, laboratory work and vaccinations.
The McCoy Task Force medical team is screening Afghan evacuees for a range of illnesses such as COVID-19, measles, chickenpox, polio and others that are not as common in the United States. From there, the medical team gives the Afghans their age-appropriate vaccines.
Lt. Col. Ryan Flanagan, Pediatric Cardiologist for Task Force McCoy, spoke about the process of getting Afghans through the vaccination process.
“It’s quite a process, to get people through all the health assessments; a big part is demographics, ”Flanagan said. “As people come in, we need to integrate them into all of our systems so that we can order labs and drugs. Once the demographics are entered they arrive at our facility where we have set up modules with civilian contractors, active duty health professionals and providers, who are doctors and nurse practitioners, who then design laboratories, examine them for any contraindication to vaccines, then administer all the vaccines they need.
“We can get about 60 people through the whole process in just over an hour,” Flanagan said. “We follow people from start to finish; from bus to bus takes about an hour / hour and a half.
Sgt. Elexaus Feagin, Pharmacy Technician for Task Force McCoy, spoke about the vaccines being given to Afghans and how she overcame an initial shortage of immunization personnel.
“We have about 13 vaccines to include the tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, COVID-19 and influenza vaccine; we put it back together and draw it in a sterile environment for nurses to give to Afghan guests, ”Feagin said. “I had to take soldiers from different medical sections and teach them how to replenish in a sterile environment, ensure proper dosage for patients; the soldiers learned and we won.
Flanagan reflected on his time as a pediatrician and spoke about the temperament of Afghan children who get vaccinated.
“To make the Afghan kids do it as a pediatrician, you give them a pacifier, they smile and the kids are great,” Flanagan said. “They are really tough; as someone who has been pricking children with needles for a long time, these children are great. “
CPS. Elizabeth Vega, behavioral health specialist for Task Force McCoy, came to help in any way she could.
“Just because I’m a behavioral health specialist doesn’t mean I’m always there for the mental health aspect,” Vega said. “I do administrative work, I write papers, I do vaccinations… they have us everywhere. We are taught a lot of things by working in this establishment.
The Task Force McCoy medical team includes many military medical professionals, such as phlebotomists, lab technicians, nurses, doctors and contractors. All are working together to make this effort a reality, while impatiently awaiting what the future holds for the Afghan evacuees.
“Knowing that I have made a difference in someone else’s life, our guests came from nothing and I actually got the opportunity to help them become someone,” said Vega. “It’s a wonderful feeling, I am truly blessed to be here, I am honored to be here and I love it.”
Feagin also echoes this sentiment.
“I want someday in the future someone to say ‘hey, I was at Fort McCoy and I went through this whole visa process,'” Feagin said. “I want to be able to tell them I was there too and ask them how and where they have been. I can’t wait for this to happen because I know it’s going to happen once in the future and I’m excited to see how this progression is going to be.
|Date posted:||09/17/2021 11:01|
|Site:||FORT MCCOY, WI, United States|
|Hometown:||DALLAS, Texas, United States|
|Hometown:||DELRAY BEACH, FL, UNITED STATES|
|Hometown:||KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, United States|
|Hometown:||LAS VEGAS, NV, United States|
|Hometown:||LUBBOCK, Texas, United States|
|Hometown:||QUEENS, NY, United States|
|Hometown:||ROCKFORD, Illinois, United States|
|Hometown:||SOUTHERN PINES, North Carolina, United States|
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