Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leisure reservations have not been accepted at the Navy Gateway Inns and Suites (NGIS) onboard NAS Patuxent River since March, but that doesn’t mean some people aren’t still checking in.
NGIS is currently providing lodging for eligible and authorized official military travelers and installation support for Restriction of Movement (ROM) service members arriving at Pax River to fill essential roles who are then put under quarantine for 14 days by their command.
“ROM guests are placed in our suites, which include kitchenettes with refrigerators, microwaves, and cooktop stoves, enabling them to reduce the number of times they need to leave their room for food,” said Kieshia Kelly, Pax River NGIS general manager. “Either their command point-of-contact brings them takeout, or food to cook, or they are allowed to go to purchase food as long as they wear masks and observe social distancing instruction.”
To allay any concerns or confusion NGIS team members may have had regarding risks to their health, Kelly requested the assistance of Dr. Patricia Bray, an occupational physician at Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, to make sure they obtained the correct information from a medical professional. Bray met with staff for about an hour in the NGIS conference room, where employees who were asked to continue to report to work, wore face coverings and physically distanced from each other by spreading out across the room.
“Guidance was provided by CNIC and the CDC; however, the team members had additional questions,” Kelly said. “Dr. Bray discussed the biology of the virus, proper ways to wear protective equipment, how long the virus lives on different surfaces, and the different ways people can be exposed to the virus. She explained the information in a way we could all understand and was very patient, taking the time to answer all of our questions.”
Since normal services are substantially modified during HPCON ROM conditions, daily housekeeping services have been reduced to three days a week.
“This was a safety measure that limits the chance of exposure to both our team members and guests,” Kelly explained. “ROM guests are provided cleaning products and a ROM Amenities Bag within 24 hours of check-in with basic amenities for their stay. The front desk can also provide extra linens and amenities, as requested. We also provide daily trash and linen pick up, if needed.”
Though the facility’s standard cleaning methods are quite thorough, extra precautions are being taken at this time to protect guests and staff.
“We’ve increased the cleaning of common areas, such as the lobby, stairways, handrails — basically any multiple touch points throughout the property,” Kelly said. “Hand sanitizer is provided in multiple areas, like the business center, front desk, all workstations, and on all housekeeper’s carts. Team members considered high risk remain at home, and team members at work are encouraged not to gather in groups. Front desk hours changed from 24 hours a day to closing at 11 p.m., and everyone is sent home once work is complete.”
The Pax River NGIS remains in the top scores across the Enterprise for Mystery Calls and received CNIC’s prestigious Zumwalt Award for excellence in lodging management in 2019. Kelly is quick to recognize her staff as a contributing factor.
“Time and again they have proven themselves to be resilient and dedicated to providing top notch service and fulfilling our mission,” she said. “They have exhibited that same dedication during this pandemic, taking care of the service members and civilians that are still required to report to work. We have an amazing team.”