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52nd MDG leadership visits Bitburg COVID-19 testing center

Bitburg-Prüm County Deutsches Rotes Kreuz volunteers, collect and process COVID-19 nasal swabs at a COVID-19 testing facility set up at the former Bitburg Air Base Commissary, Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020. Partnering with host nation colleagues increased crosstalk between 52nd Medical Group professionals, and opened new ways of thinking and approaching shared challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alex Miller)

Bitburg-Prüm County Deutsches Rotes Kreuz volunteers process COVID-19 nasal swabs at a COVID-19 testing facility set up at the former Bitburg Air Base Commissary, Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020. The tests were purchased by the county and made available to German citizens. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alex Miller)

Volker Heck, Bitburg-Prüm County Deutsches Rotes Kreuz volunteer, filled containers with disinfectant at a COVID-19 testing facility set up at the former Bitburg Air Base Commissary, Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020. The disinfectant was a by-product from the production of a local Bitburg brewery's alcohol-free beer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alex Miller)

Torsten Meier, Deutsches Rotes Kreuz disaster manager for Bitburg-Prum county, right, speaks with a local volunteer at a COVID-19 testing facility set up at the former Bitburg Air Base Commissary, Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020. In addition to being the disaster manager for the Bitburg-Prüm county, Meier is also the principal at a local middle school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alex Miller)

U.S. Air Force Col. Alisha Smith, 52nd Medical Group commander, left, and Karsten Kurtze, 52nd MDG safety officer, right, listen to a brief given by Dr. Joachim Streit, Bitburg-Prüm County commissioner, at the former Bitburg Air Base Commissary, Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020. The former Bitburg AB Commissary was selected, in part, because it is geographically dislocated from the city hospital in hopes of keeping persons who may be infected with COVID-19 away from hospital patrons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alex Miller)

U.S. Air Force Col. Alisha Smith, 52nd Medical Group commander, middle, listened to a briefing given by Karsten Kurtze, 52nd MDG safety officer, right, at the former Bitburg Air Base Commissary, Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020. Kurtze gave Smith a description of the COVID-19 screening questionnaire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alex Miller)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

52nd Medical Group leaders visited a COVID-19 testing center set up in the former Bitburg Air Base commissary in Bitburg, Germany, April 10, 2020.

The visit provided an opportunity to strengthen partnership and share knowledge between the 52nd MDG and the local German community.

“Partnering with host-nation colleagues increases cross talk between our medical professionals, facilitates information sharing, and opens us to new ways of thinking and approaching shared challenges,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Alisha Smith, 52nd MDG commander.

Local German officials also believe the meeting was beneficial.

“There is good trust and cooperation between the facilities at Spangdahlem Air Base and the Bitburg-Prüm district administration to combat the coronavirus,” said Thomas Konder, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm press officer.

Local German officials chose to use the old Bitburg AB commissary because its location allows possible COVID-19 patients to be kept distanced from local medical facilities.

“The old Bitburg AB commissary was selected in part because the site is geographically separated from the city hospital in hopes of keeping persons who may be infected with COVID-19 away from hospital patrons,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Marisol Lozada, 52nd MDG chief enlisted manager. “The screening and testing operation is run by highly trained Red Cross volunteers, members of the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, and officials of the Bitburg-Prüm County government. Staff members ask questions and determine whether persons who drive up require testing. Tests are purchased by the county and made available to German citizens of the community when medically indicated.”

The 52nd MDG constantly strives to find ways to increase partnership with their host nation.

“We have a great working relationship with our host-nation medical facilities, and we continuously look for ways to increase partnership opportunities and assist each other,” Lozada said.

Smith agreed.

“Outside of COVID-19 response, the 52nd MDG professionals routinely meet with host nation colleagues to continuously explore partnership opportunities,” Smith said.

52nd MDG leadership appreciated the opportunity to visit and was impressed by the operation.

“We wish to thank members of DRK, especially Mr. Karsten Kurtze and Dr. Joachim Streit, the Bitburg-Prüm County Commissioner, for hosting our visit,” Smith said. “Host-nation partners have created an impressive operation for their citizens at the Bitburg Commissary.”