While most of the workforce of Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane has been safely teleworking for the last month due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, one naval officer has volunteered to support the nation by going to some of the hardest hit areas in the country.
Navy Lt. Miranda L. Bassett, a construction manager for the NSA Crane Public Works Department, deployed to Chicago on April 10 to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) convert spaces into alternate care facilities.
“Alternate care facilities provide additional capacity for possible COVID-19 surges, helping alleviate area hospitals,” said Bassett, who originally hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “By providing longer-term capacity for longer periods of time as the situation slows, hospitals may resume normal operations.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic surged, USACE needed additional support. Bassett, like many of her peers, quickly raised her hand to volunteer. Bassett is among a select group of engineers, health care workers and emergency responders going into hot zones to help. Basset said that caring for the community and battling COVID-19 requires a team effort.
“I have met both active duty and reservists from every branch of the military,” she said. “Also, FEMA, state health departments, local hospitals and more are all coming together to support states in providing facilities needed to safely care for patients and slow down the spread of COVID-19.”
As part of the Chicago USACE team, Bassett is working to convert the abandoned Westlake Hospital into an alternate care facility. The hospital closed last summer, but is now being revived to serve COVID-19 patients. Bassett’s current assignment will likely continue into May.
“It is challenging to understand the requirements of an alternate care facility for COVID-19,” she said. “When our part is done, the goal is to turn the facility over to medical staff, where they can work safely and patients can recover.”
Prior to Chicago, Bassett was part of the Nashville District USACE team in Tennessee for less than a week. Although that project was ultimately canceled, her work there prepared her for the demanding environment awaiting her in Chicago, she added.
“Everything is very fluid and dynamic,” said Bassett. “However, seeing the willingness, effort, flexibility and teamwork of everyone involved at multiple sites is truly amazing.”