By Lt. j.g. Richelle Magalhaes, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam Preventive Medicine
Countless good things come out of Hawaii: pineapples, hula dancing, Kona coffee and the less well-known, but arguably equally important, Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit – 6 (NEPMU-6). The Guam Naval Hospital Preventive Medicine (Prev Med.) Department receives support from NEPMU-6 in all matters related to public health.
The Honolulu-based unit possesses laboratories, data centers, specialists and subject-matter experts in fields such as; industrial hygiene, environmental health, entomology and expeditionary preventive medicine to provide information, support and aid to operational forces and shore based Navy personnel like my team, the Preventive Medicine Department at USNH Guam.
The week of Aug. 12-16 we played host to NEPMU-6 for trainings and certifications in an array of public health related subjects. Lt. Martha Claeys Jacobson, environmental health officer, provided trainings and certifications related to food service and provided a class in shipboard sanitation. Lt. Ryan Larson, entomologist, NEPMU-6, provided courses in pest management including: Department of Defense Pesticide Applicator certification and Shipboard Pest Management. My team and I were excited to be able to bring in such a knowledgeable group to provide training to support Naval Operations here in Guam.
Tri-Service Food Code
The upcoming roll-out of the Tri-Service Food Code (TSFC) is what provided the opportunity for us to host the Hawaii-based preventive medicine unit. The new food code will combine the Army, Air Force and Navy food inspection manuals and guides to provide one comprehensive reference to seamlessly assist in the integration of joint bases and to get all of the sister services on the same page. In support of this joint effort, the training allowed us the opportunity to host the local Army Vets and Air Force Public Health in true Tri-Service fashion.
NEPMU-6 provided training, and lead exercises for up to 20 active duty food and health inspectors that focused on an understanding of the new regulations and provided instruction on use of the new inspection forms that all branches are slated to utilize in December 2013. The class integrated service members from all three branches and encouraged us to work as a team through tough exercises, thus providing a glimpse into the joint work dynamic that is the future of our military. Upon completion of the course, we became qualified to teach the course to food handlers and food trainers at our respective installations.
My department is responsible for public health protection which includes activities related to food sanitation, food handler training, beach water sampling, administering flu shots, disease outbreak investigations and base vector surveillance. We utilized NEPMU-6’s entomologist, Larson, to improve upon the existing mosquito surveillance program.
Larson assisted us by looking over the base-specific policies that we follow for pest management, the types of traps we currently use to capture mosquitoes, instructed us on how to properly identify mosquitoes and ventured out with our Preventive Medicine Technicians (PMTs) to evaluate mosquito trap placement around the bases and housing compounds to improve the existing mosquito surveillance program.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Derrick Haynes, preventive medicine technician, in charge of mosquito trapping and identification, told me that he felt Larson contributed a great deal to the program. Haynes said, “Lt. Larson taught me how to better identify the nesting grounds for mosquitoes and to better differentiate between mosquito species.”
Training is a very important aspect of any job. In Navy health care, it is especially important to the mission and our patients. In preventive medicine, training on the latest and greatest ensures that the population under our care can remain healthy and safe. Our USNH Guam Prev Med Department is fortunate to have NEPMU-6 relatively close to assist us with the most recent trainings so that we may better fulfill the hospital’s mission to: deliver readiness, quality care and health where America’s day begins.