CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – In March, Joint Base Charleston’s (JBC) Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Kinsel became Summerville Medical Center’s first COVID-19 patient. Lt. Col. Kinsel contracted the virus via community spread, and spent four days in the hospital before being discharged.
Lt. Col Kinsel is the commander of the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron.
He said that although he is usually very active, this was “the sickest [he’s] ever been in [his] life.” He continued, saying “it really shocked me that it hit me as hard as it did, and how long it took to bounce back.”
Slowly but surely, he has been getting back to his active lifestyle, taking each challenge in stride. He said that during his recovery, just a one-mile run was “incredibly difficult.” Now, he runs three times a week, and golfs on the weekends.
Lt. Col. Kinsel credited much of his recovery to the staff at Summerville Medical Center:
“I had excellent care…from the nurses and doctors to the infection prevention team, I felt like I was in great hands throughout the experience. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
He even presented his care team with a challenge coin from the U.S. Air Force 628th Civil Engineer Squadron. Inscribed on the coin are the phrases “awarded by the Commander for excellent performance” and “thank you for supporting JB Charleston.”
As much of SC begins to reopen, Lt. Col. Kinsel offered some advice: “please continue to follow medical advice; constantly wash your hands and adhere to social distancing guidance; [and] continue to check on your fellow citizens, especially the ones who live by themselves.”
JBC COVID-19 RESPONSE
JBC is not on the same track as the civilian community when it comes to reopening. They remain in Health Protection Condition level (HPCON) Charlie, which they declared in late March. Under the enhanced conditions, only mission-critical personnel including “active duty, guard, reserve, government civilian and contractor personnel as defined by the appropriate director, unit commander, Servicing Contracting Officer or the 628th Contracting Squadron” are allowed on the base Monday through Friday. Non-mission-critical personnel can access the base on the weekends.
HPCON Charlie indicates a substantial threat of “sustained community transmission.” JBC has not directly addressed whether Lt. Col. Kinsel contracted the virus from someone on the base. However, JBC reported their first COVID-19 case as “an Active-duty Airman” on April 7, which was after Lt. Col. Kinsel was released from Summerville Medical Center.
JBC has been front and center in the global fight against COVID-19, serving as the sole training hub for COVID-19 related aeromedical evacuation (AE) missions using the military’s Transport Isolation System (TIS). TIS is a mobile pathogen containment system that can roll aboard numerous aircraft and connect to existing medical systems. TIS enables medics to contain and treat COVID-19 patients, while isolating the patients away from other passengers. On April 10, the first successful TIS mission was completed using a C-17 and crew out of JBC.