Back to Top Skip to main content

DoD aims to fill medical gaps with military while states, cities ramp up

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon to discuss the department's efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, March 23, 2020. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia) Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon to discuss the department's efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, March 23, 2020. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

The Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy will go to Los Angeles to help relieve pressure on hospitals there so they can focus more on COVID-19 patients, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.

"We're working closely with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to set the conditions for the ship's arrival later this week, so that she can start receiving non-COVID-19 medical patients to free up bed space in some of LA's most heavily stressed hospitals," Esper said during a news conference at the Pentagon.

Esper said in the next couple of weeks, the USNS Comfort, currently at Norfolk, Virginia, will head to New York City for the same purpose. The crew and staff there, he said, are preparing for that mission.

Five military field hospitals and expeditionary medical units are on "prepare to deploy" orders, Esper said, and are expected to mobilize this week to various parts of the country. Where those units go, he added, will be based on discussions with FEMA.

"Right now, I anticipate sending a hospital to Seattle and a hospital [to] New York City," Esper said. "Beyond that, once that's confirmed, we will look at sending to other places and, as necessary, we will continue to alert units to prepare to deploy and then deploy them as appropriate."

The hospital ships, military field hospitals and expeditionary medical units must all be manned by medical personnel, Esper said, and a majority of them are drawn from Reserve units. If those personnel are called to active duty to man military medical facilities, he noted, they will need to be pulled from their civilian jobs elsewhere.

"We're very conscious as we draw people to staff up the ships or the hospitals, where we're pulling them from," he said. "You want to make sure that you don't, you know, have an impact on an area that really needs it simply because you're trying to staff up a ship or hospital."

Esper said military medical personnel will also come from active duty units, and he added that DoD is limited in what it can provide if it is going to safeguard the ability to run its own military missions.

The secretary said he sees the military filling gaps in cities that need assistance until those cities can deal with COVID-19 on their own.

During the early stages of the pandemic as cities ramp up capability, DoD can come in for a few weeks to provide that capacity until the cities can convert gyms, hotels and college dorms into medical facilities, he said. "I see us playing this role where we're the gap-filler for a period of weeks with our capabilities, once the capacity is met through these other mechanisms," Esper told reporters

The Army Corps of Engineers is also now beginning work around the country to use contracting capability to convert nonmedical facilities such as hotels, dormitories and other buildings into temporary medical facilities, Esper said.

"Constructing [new] facilities, hospitals, whatnot, would take far more time than it would to take existing infrastructure and convert it," he said.

Esper said the state of New York has been "very aggressive" in identifying sites to be converted. He said the Corps has a four-phase model to make that happen. That includes identifying sites; converting locations to enable them to provide medical capability; installing equipment; and having the state provide medical staff.

"That's the way you can expand capacity in the volume you need – we're talking thousands – but it takes some time," Esper said, adding that he's been in contact with the state of New York and other governors about how the Corps can help.

You also may be interested in...

Camp Pendleton Marines and civilians donate blood to save others

Article
8/12/2020
Two people in masks giving blood

Marines line up to donate blood

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Back-to-school vaccinations in the age of coronavirus

Article
8/12/2020
Medical technician wearing a mask, filling an immunization needle

DHA experts answer questions about back-to-school vaccines

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Public Health | Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | August Toolkit

DoD reiterates FDA warning on using some hand sanitizers

Article
8/11/2020
Three men in PPE examining bottles of hand sanitzer

Gel hand sanitizers are flammable and consumers must be aware of their surroundings when using them.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army general donates COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma at Tripler

Article
8/11/2020
Man wearing mask in hospital chair giving blood

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate against who it infects – even general officers are susceptible.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

COVID-19 patient treated at Evans

Article
8/10/2020
Woman in wheelchair wearing a mask, being wheeled out of hospital surrounded by crowd applauding

During her stay, [Joyce Woffenden ] was also the first patient to receive convalescent plasma at EACH.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

New Navy units join in the fight against COVID-19

Article
8/7/2020
Military nurse putting on PPE

This deployment marked the first use of the newly established Acute Care Team and Rapid Rural Response Team medical platforms.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Air Force updates medical courses with COVID-19 content, procedures

Article
8/7/2020
Two lab technicians wearing full PPE handling vials for testing

COVID-19 has pushed instructors and trainers to be more innovative.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

BAMC nurses: “It’s us against COVID”

Article
8/6/2020
Group of nurses at a hospital

With safety on the line, mistakes aren’t an option when it comes to PPE.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Madigan collects CCP in fight against COVID-19

Article
8/6/2020
Four people in a hospital room wearing masks

Convalescent plasma has been used for nearly a century to transfer antibodies from a recovered person to help protect another from an infection.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 12) -Department of Defense Guidance for Personnel Traveling During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
8/6/2020

This memorandum supplements requirements in references (a), (b), and (c) with respect to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and replaces reference (d). It provides pre- and post­travel guidance for purposes of force health protection (FHP) of Service members, DoD family members, DoD civilian employees, and DoD contractor personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Indiana National Guard continues to train in the COVID-19 environment

Article
8/5/2020
Soldiers in the field, wearing masks and testing equipment

Training in a time of COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

DHA to recognize COVID-19 front-line innovators and leaders

Article
8/5/2020
Hospital Corpsman administers a COVID-19 test to service member aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex.

Who are the COVID-19 change makers?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Patient Safety | Patient Safety Champion Recognition Program

One Airman’s Life of Service – in and out of uniform

Article
8/5/2020
Man wearing mask checking inventory on shelves

Serving the nation is a way of life for one Airman

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Combat Support | Total Force Fitness

MTFs plan and prepare to face any emergency or disaster

Article
8/4/2020
Hospital personnel surrounding a patient

Military hospitals make emergency plans and conduct practice drills long before a natural disaster strikes.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Emergency Preparedness and Response | Disaster Prep Toolkit

Air Force mental health team provides for deployed troops

Article
8/4/2020
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Davis, conducts a weekly Disaster Mental Health battlefield circulation walk around Quarantine Town.

The Disaster Mental Health team helps combat the stressors of the novel coronavirus and improves the overall well-being of service members of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 41

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.