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HSE & Defence Forces team up to deliver excellence in community testing

D COM JTF Col O’Luasa and JTF BSM A/BSM Burke collecting the HSE Excellence Operational Services Integration Award on behalf of the Defence Forces

Covid 19 community testing integration featuring the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Defence Forces won the recent 2021 HSE Excellence Award in the Operational Services Integration.  In presenting the prize, HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry explained that “during COVID we all learned to change and adapt how we worked. Some of our staff were re-deployed, some were involved in setting up new services, such as testing, contact tracing and, of course, vaccinations. We all learned to work in a more blended way and all stepped up to the mark. I’m really proud to be working with these colleagues right across the country.”

Kenneth Stanley, HSE, explained that “project was set up to monitor Covid 19 testing demand across the country. Meeting three times a week, our team evaluates the data and makes decisions in a timely manner with regard to where we will deploy additional resources to support our testing across the country. The national Covid Community Testing Team comprises nine CHO Community Testing Leads, the National Ambulance Service and our partners from the Defence Forces.”

He continued:  “Overall this team supports the national COVID-19 effort by ensuring that we have the maximum capacity available and ensuring the tests are taken in a minimum amount of time.”

The frontline staff of the National Ambulance Service have been among the most prominent in the national response to COVID-19. From the earliest stages of the pandemic, ambulance crews have been crucial to efforts, co-ordinating home testing, helping set up pop-up test sites and drive through testing facilities, right through to the ramping up of testing at residential care facilities with their swab teams.

The Defence Forces have supported the HSE in numerous ways, from the physical construction of test centres and transportation of PPE, medical supplies and tests, to carrying out COVID-19 tests and manning contact tracing roles.