Mid-February held some bittersweet moments for York Hospital staff as they bid farewell to their National Guard compatriots on the final day of their months-long collaboration. After coming together to launch the COVID-19 testing site at the York Hospital Walk-In Care location in York on July 1, 2020, both hospital and military staff bonded over the ensuing months and developed a great working relationship while caring for the community. Shown here on their final day together are: Master Sergeant Keith Anderson, Master Sargent Wright, Heather Bird from York Hospital, Private First Class Smith and Airman First Class Damico.

“When we all started working here this summer to launch COVID-19 testing, we thought it would be for a few weeks. Just like the Guardsmen who were pulled from other service assignments, I was pulled from my position as a patient service representative to help get our COVID-19 testing site staffed and operational,” said York Hospital’s Heather Bird. The deployment went from days to weeks to months, and looking back, Heather said she is grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside the National Guard, many of whom she now considers friends. “It has been a great partnership and I hope we stay in contact.”

Master Sergeant Keith Anderson added that a total of 10 National Guardsmen rotated through the COVID-19 testing site located at the York Hospital Walk-In Clinic over the past 230 days. “Together with York Hospital, the Town of York and the State of Maine, we worked together to provide almost 37,000 COVID-19 tests to community members and visitors. Most of the time we felt like we were on the ‘front lines’ of gratitude during this pandemic, with many people overwhelmingly positive and grateful to have this local testing operation. We really couldn’t have asked for a better partnership, and we thank York Hospital for allowing our teams to work alongside each other so effectively,” he said.

“I don’t know how we could have done it without them,” said Dina Dellapasqua, administrative coordinator of York Hospital walk-in care. “It was very comforting to have the National Guard managing onsite operations as people arrived for testing while hospital staff focused on COVID-19 swabbing and sample collection.”

Erich Fogg, York Hospital’s director of walk-in operations, added his thanks to the Guardsmen as they gathered for a farewell lunch on their final day, recalling their busiest day of testing just before Thanksgiving, when together, the team processed 423 COVID-19 tests.

For information about current COVID-19 testing options at York Hospital, please visit the hospital’s COVID-19 Testing page on our website.