Correcting Misinformation about Lackland Operations

For 70 years, BCFS has provided high-quality care for children, families and communities in, operating with the greatest level of transparency and integrity. Our team is comprised of professional emergency management and health care professionals, and the safety and security of those in our care are protected by off-duty commissioned law enforcement officers. 

In response to misinformation reported in the news, here are the facts about the care being provided for children at Lackland Air Force Base:

  • Protection and Privacy of Children. The children at Lackland Air Force Base are under the conservatorship of the federal government and, like any child in foster care, their personal information is private. As a result, all persons involved in providing care and service to the children must agree to protect the identities and health records of the children in our care, just as any hospital or childcare operation requires. Breaching personal health information or professional standards of care or ethics is unacceptable and grounds for dismissal. 

    Contrary to allegations by anonymous former employees of our temporary staffing agency, none of our Lackland shelter professionals have been arrested or threatened with arrest for any activities related to shelter operations.

  • Health Screenings & Illnesses. The children cared for at Lackland are ALL medically screened and immunized based on CDC guidelines on vaccinations. If a child feels ill, he or she is taken to an on-site clinic, staffed with a pediatric ER physician as well as mid-level providers, nurses, paramedics and a pharmacy tech. 

    To date, 119 children have been treated for lice, 22 children have been treated for scabies, and 1 child was sent and admitted to a local children’s hospital where they were diagnosed with the H1N1 Flu. The most common illnesses seen at Lackland are fever, headache, upper respiratory colds, and ingrown toenails (another result of the children’s travels from Central America).  

  • Multiple Layers of Behavioral Health Resources Consultation. A 16-person team of mental health clinicians are currently assigned to the Lackland shelter and have direct access to a psychologist for consultation 24/7. Clinicians are supervised closely by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Refugee Resettlement Federal Field Specialist, who ultimately has decision making authority regarding all health and mental health matters.

    The same is the case for medical care. Every illness, whether it is a headache or something more serious, is recorded in a child’s electronic medical record and posted on WebEOC – a real-time, web-based platform providing epidemiological tracking of all clinic visits is visible to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state health authorities. 

    At BCFS’ request, Metro Health (the local health authority for San Antonio), Department of State of Health Services, and U.S. Public Health authorities have inspected our facility and had access to freely converse with our medical staff and children.

  • Communication. Similar to standards in crisis centers and schools, staff are not permitted to have their cell phones on the shelter premises in order to protect the safety and privacy of the children we are serving. Additionally, we want our staff’s full focus to be on the children and operational activities while they are on duty. To ensure rapid and effective workplace communication, all staff are given two-way radios and access to land lines throughout the shelter. 

  • Professional Security. To protect the children and staff, security is provided by off-duty law enforcement officers. Our shelter management team (whose uniform includes khaki shirts and navy pants) serve in various roles to support shelter operations, like coordinating food service; the daily schedule of activities; and distribution of supplies like children’s clothing and hygiene products. Most have first responder backgrounds, such as emergency management, fire service, and medical services. Many worked disaster shelters during hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. They are not security personnel. 

    All personnel at the shelter wear a colored shirt or vest to denote their particular role and responsibility. For example, child care personnel wear blue shirts, medical personnel wear gold vests, and custodial personnel wear gold shirts. This procedure is common practice not only for emergency response operations, but in many work environments so as to be able to readily identify a person’s role where large numbers of people are present.   

Since operations at Lackland Air Force began on 18 May, numerous officials from the state and federal government, health care agencies, faith-based organizations and the news media have visited the site, including members of Congress and the Texas Legislature; the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; local, state and public health authorities; medical professionals; the Texas Attorney General; military leaders; Department of Defense officials; child defense attorneys; and the Archbishop of San Antonio and other pastors. Media was also provided a full tour of the facility on 5 June, and reported on their accounts of the clean, safe operations at the Lackland shelter.