Keller Corner: Update on Coronavirus: KACH ready to test cadets, Soldiers arriving at West Point

Story and photo by Brandon O’Connor PV Assistant Editor

May 21st, 2020 | News, News and Features
 Keller Army Community Hospital currently has two GeneXpert 16 testing analyzers in its lab, which will allow 320 tests to be processed in a 12-hour period. KACH is scheduled to receive two more testing analyzers, which will increase the capacity to 640 tests every 12 hours.

As the U.S. Military Academy Corps of Cadets return to the academy, each cadet will be tested for COVID-19, starting with members of the Class of 2020 from May 26-30.
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division from Fort Polk, Louisiana, who will be conducting summer training will also be tested as they begin arriving in mid-June.
The testing process will be handled by medical professionals from Keller Army Community Hospital, which is located on-post at West Point.
The current plan is for cadets and Soldiers arriving at West Point to be screened and swabbed at Camp Buckner. The samples will then be transported to KACH to be tested.
“Keller’s mission is to test the Class of 2020 while protecting both the cadets and hospital staff,” said Col. Brett H. Venable, commander of KACH. “During testing operations, all clinical staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment to include N95 masks, face shields, gowns and gloves.”
KACH currently has two GeneXpert 16 testing analyzers in its lab, which will allow 320 tests to be processed in a 12-hour period, Capt. Jeffrey Baker, officer-in-charge of the Department of Pathology at KACH, said. The hospital is scheduled to receive two more testing analyzers, which will increase the capacity to 640 tests every 12 hours.
In total, KACH should have the ability to conduct more than 8,000 tests between the end of May, when the Class of 2020 returns, and July when the new cadets in the Class of 2024 will arrive, Baker said.
If a cadet or Soldier tests positive, he or she will be informed by a medical professional from the hospital and placed in isolation.
If they test negative, cadets will be allowed onto West Point’s main post and Soldiers from the task force will be allowed into Camp Natural Bridge, where they live while conducting training.
The vacant labor and delivery ward at KACH has also be transformed into a COVID-19 ward to accept any cadets or Soldiers who develop symptoms that require hospitalization.