Public Health Department leads the way against COVID-19

May 12, 2020

FORT RILEY, Kan.– The public health department continues to aid the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley maintain mission essential readiness despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the Public Health Department isn’t accepting patients into their building, they are still working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that Fort Riley and its healthcare services remain safe and mission capable.

“We are helping lead the charge on keeping people safe,” said Maj. Kimberly Moore, an Army public health nurse with MEDDAC. “It is a team effort, and we couldn’t do it alone.”

The Department holds four teams: nursing, industrial hygiene, occupational health, and environmental services.

Moore said that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health Nursing is working to provide COVID screenings, testing and contact tracing. As Fort Riley and Kansas as a whole look towards methods to safely reopen, Public Health Nursing also works to support the other three teams where necessary as they perform inspections, support those returning to work, or run fit testing for masks.

The department also reviews every single person that calls into the COVID-19 hotline, which they highly encourage the Fort Riley community to continue to use.

“We really support the commanding general’s decisions, especially to limit travel,” said Alexandria Shannon, a Public Health Nurse on Fort Riley. “We’ve been able to maintain a less than five percent infection rate here.”

Shannon said all of the measures being taken by Fort Riley, from hand washing and masks to limiting people allowed in high traffic areas at any given time, were vital to maintaining the low infection risk.

Moore and Shannon both stated they were grateful to the hospital and leadership around the division for their quick response times and adaptability.

“As we look to reopen, it’s going to be a challenging time within public health,” Moore said.

Moore and Shannon also both acknowledged that continuing to fight COVID while maintaining or increasing normal day-to-day operations would present new obstacles. Their department is already in the process of making adjustments for the future, such as increased staffing in key areas.

“We’re on call 24/7 for the hospital and the post as a whole,” Shannon said, “We’ll continue to support this mission for as long as we need to.”