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Kansas Guard helps limit COVID-19 spread at nursing homes

Airman 1st Class Traevonne Greene, 190th Air Refueling Wing, Kansas Air National Guard health service technician, sprays a non-toxic test solution into the hood of Latasha Benfer, medication aide for Homestead of Topeka, to test the N95 protective masks’ ability to filter airborne particles during a fit test demonstration at Homestead of Topeka in Topeka, Kansas, May 6, 2020.

Airman 1st Class Traevonne Greene, 190th Air Refueling Wing, Kansas Air National Guard health service technician, sprays a non-toxic test solution into the hood of Latasha Benfer, medication aide for Homestead of Topeka, to test the N95 protective masks’ ability to filter airborne particles during a fit test demonstration at Homestead of Topeka in Topeka, Kansas, May 6, 2020.

TOPEKA, Kan. --

Kansas Air National Guard medical teams take pride in helping their communities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical technicians from the 190th Air Refueling Wing have visited more than a dozen nursing facilities in the Topeka and Rossville area, completing over 350 fittings of N95 protective masks.

“Meeting all the new people, going to new places, and getting to learn more about people here while fitting and handing out the N95 mask in Topeka means a lot, because you are protecting them,” said Airman 1st Class Traevonne Greene, 190th Air Refueling Wing, Kansas Air National Guard health service technician.

Homestead of Topeka is one of the many facilities where the team conducted their tests and training. Homestead is a memory health care facility where isolation is not always possible.

“We attack this with cleaning rather than isolation, which is why the N95 is so important to our center,” said Susan Bullock, executive director of Homestead of Topeka. “If we have someone that shows symptoms, it would be very difficult to isolate them from the people living here or the staff.”

The N95 masks are used by the nursing care staff to minimize the spread of diseases such as COVID-19 and will strengthen their defense response while continuing to care for all residents.

“It makes me really proud, I’ve been able to give back,” said Senior Airman Emma-lee Elmer, 190th Air Refueling Wing, Kansas Air National Guard bioenvironmental engineering technician. “Hearing how thankful these people are, it just feels really good knowing we are able to give back to them.”

The N95 mask requires fit-testing and must be adjusted to the face to provide the intended effectiveness of filtering 95% of particles with a mass median diameter of 0.3 micrometers. The fit-test is completed by holding the mask in one hand, with the nose piece at the fingertips and letting the head straps hang loosely in front of the mask. Using both hands, you mold the nose piece to the shape of your nose by pushing inward with your fingertips. Then seal-checks are completed by covering the mask completely with both hands and exhaling sharply. If air blows on face or eyes, readjustment of the mask is required until passing the seal-check.

The test allowed Airmen to correctly determine which mask size provided a proper fit for the Homestead of Topeka staff. Once the staff passed the seal-check with the N95 mask, medical technicians placed a see-through hood over the staff member’s head. A non-toxic test solution is sprayed into the hood to test the N95 protective masks’ ability to filter airborne particles. The staff member was then instructed how to remove the N95 protective mask properly.

“The nursing homes we are visiting, the administration is coming up and thanking us for everything we are doing; we definitely feel our purpose, need for being here,” said Airman 1st Class Skylar Medrano, 190th Air Refueling Wing, Kansas Air National Guard medical technician. “It feels like we are making a difference and helping.”

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