The New Year prompted new responsiveness needs with the on-going pandemic at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) and other Puget Sound Military Health System military treatment facilities.
The Omicron variant of the highly-infectious COVID virus has brought a surge of patients requesting symptomatic COVID-19 testing at NHB, as well as Madigan Army Medical Center and Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor.
Over 100 patients came through NHB’s Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) COVID Triage in the first five hours to be tested, Jan. 3, 2022. The patient influx caused congested traffic, impeded parking for those with scheduled appointments and taxed a limited staff already stretched thin to provide timely support to those in need.
As a result, NHB’s UCC is limiting testing services to active duty personnel assigned to units with no testing resources; beneficiaries over age 50; and those with symptoms severe enough to require medical evaluation and the need to be seen by a physician.
Lt. Cmdr. Mia Jin, NHB public health emergency officer (PHEO), attests that the caveat which all eligible beneficiaries need to consider if they need a COVID test is if they feel ill enough to visit their medical provider for the same request.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those symptoms considered severe include shortness of breath, new onset of cough, acute loss of smell/taste, fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, sore throat, and fatigue.
Asymptomatic testing support for those identified as a close contact or for official travel is still available on NHB’s Third Floor of the Family Medicine wing when ordered in advance by a medical provider.
“At this time, we are not able to support testing for leisure/personal travel,” said Jin, noting that local testing resources are also available through Kitsap Public Health: https://kitsappublichealth.org/CommunityHealth/files/COVID/COVID-TestingFacilities.pdf
“When patient’s present to UCC we ask if they are wanting a provider evaluation or are they just presenting for a test and sick-in-quarters chit. We do refer to emergency departments if they are known positive COVID with worsening symptoms, having true dyspnea [difficult breathing] with shortness of breath, and any chest pain with other respiratory symptoms,” added Lt. Cmdr. Paul Flood, UCC department head and staff family physician.
Dr. Dan Frederick, NHB population health officer and PHEO stressed that being administered a COVID-19 vaccine continues to be the best tool to protect against the disease.
“Getting vaccinated for COVID provides the best means to help stop the virus and its variants,” Frederick said.
Towards that end, NHB offers – by appointment - the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible beneficiaries age 5 and older, as well as vaccine booster shot: