Skip to main content

Military Health System

DOD Official Discusses Conditions-Based Reopenings, Future of Telework

Image of Man in full PPE spraying down a chair with sanitizer. Army Pfc. Christopher Elsberry, assigned to the 36th Medical Company Area Support Battalion, sanitizes a chair inside the mobile COVID-19 testing unit at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, May 19, 2020. Military medical providers assigned to the hospital helped relieve the city’s medical system as part of the Defense Department’s COVID-19 response. (Photo By: Army Cpl. Rachel Thicklin.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Conditions-based reopenings have worked well for the Defense Department to date, and the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness anticipates the same stringent requirements will remain in place.

Matthew Donovan, whose Pentagon office is the epicenter of DOD's anti-COVID-19 fight, said he is pleased with the way service members and their families have responded to the pandemic. He put the experience in context during a socially distanced interview in his Pentagon office.

The Defense Health Agency worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention beginning in December, when the first reports of the novel coronavirus surfaced in China. In January, Donovan — then the acting undersecretary — talked with Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper about the virus and the steps DOD had to take.

It was quick.

"My confirmation hearing was March 10, and we were still shaking hands," Donovan said. "On March 23, I was confirmed, and when I got back over here, the whole world had changed."

Esper was clear from the start about his priorities in a pandemic: protect service members and their families, ensure the mission continues, support civilian agencies as they lead the fight against the pandemic.

DOD acted quickly. Italy and South Korea were two of the first places where the virus appeared after China. Esper put in place a stop-movement order that was to last 60 days and then be reevaluated. In April, the virus had spread to the United States and other countries. Many areas locked down, businesses closed and activities cancelled.

But DOD had to continue. Service members still had missions to conduct. The United States had forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Djibouti and many other nations. They had to continue to operate, and DOD personnel worked to ensure they safely could continue their vital missions. 

DOD medical personnel and National Guardsmen assisted the areas hardest hit, with Navy hospital ships deploying to New York and Los Angeles and hospital units moving to New Orleans, Dallas, Seattle and other areas.

Man in mask examining vial
Nathaniel Jackson, a research assistant with the emerging infectious disease branch at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, studies coronavirus protein samples, June 1, 2020. The branch is part of the institute’s effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. (Photo By: Mike Walters, Army.)

In May, the White House issued its "Opening Up America Again" guidelines, and DOD went to a conditions-based approach for movement. Areas had to meet certain conditions before the stop-movement order could be eased. That is the situation the department is in today.

"We put out the travel guidance that listed exemptions for moves and … waiver abilities for the Services for people that absolutely had to move," Donovan said. "All through this process, DOD personnel had to follow the latest CDC guidance, and local commanders had to gauge the situation on bases and in the surrounding communities,” he said. 

"As we look forward, we have 231 installations that we're tracking around the world, and 99 of them had their travel restrictions lifted," the undersecretary said. "We continually review this. It's been complicated a little bit lately because of the rolling outbreaks the White House COVID Task Force told us might occur. That has caused some of our installations to go from green back to red because of conditions in the local communities."

DOD is working with other government agencies and private firms to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Some vaccines are already in large-scale testing, and it is possible that some could be ready by the end of the year. DOD is partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services to produce the approved vaccines to scale. DOD officials are also working with health officials to determine how to vaccinate service members and their families.

"There is, of course, a plan for vaccine distribution for everyone," Donovan said. "Nothing has been finalized, but if you look back at the priority framework that we developed for testing, …that provides a pretty good framework for who we would want to get the vaccinations to as well."

Vaccination is a national decision, he said, and DOD personnel would get the priority assigned to them by national leaders.

One aspect of the pandemic that has been eye-opening to DOD leaders is how effective telework has been. "There have been several pushes across the decades to increase the use of telework, but it never exceeded 5% of the federal workforce," Donovan said. "There has been a lot of skepticism about teleworking on the part of supervisors: How do I ensure that [my workers] are actually doing their work?"

Then the pandemic struck. "We had the impetus to drive to about 95 percent [teleworking] in Personnel and Readiness," Donovan said. "We're still at around the high 70s for teleworking. And guess what? The work got done. And that was even with a tripling of the workload because of COVID."

Donovan noted that productivity in some areas actually increased thanks to teleworking. He said he tips his hat to the Defense Information Systems Agency and DOD's chief information officer for building the network for teleworking.

The success has officials thinking of the way forward, as telework could cut the demand for office space and ease crowding in DOD buildings, he said.

Finally, Donovan said, he is concerned with readiness. He said the services have done an excellent job keeping the "throughput" for recruits during the pandemic. A short pause allowed the services to develop procedures to continue training safely, and it's back on track. "We think there will be minimal effect on service end strength," he said.

The pandemic has had some effect on unit readiness. Some exercises and training events were cancelled due to the virus, but commanders have tried to make up those training events. Still, fewer flight hours, steaming hours and the like can affect readiness, Donovan said. But DOD and service officials did not let that impact crucial missions, he added, and they will watch this readiness issue carefully.

Disclaimer:  Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity.  Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

VAX Fact Other Medical Conditions

Infographic
4/19/2021
VAX Fact Other Medical Conditions

An infographic answering the question of whether you can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have underlying medical conditions.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Fact Affect Fertility

Infographic
4/19/2021
VAX Fact Affect Fertility

An infographic answering the question of whether the COVID-19 vaccine affects a person's fertility.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Fact Current Infection

Infographic
4/19/2021
VAX Fact Current Infection

An infographic answering the question of whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you currently have a positive COVID-19 infection.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Fact Breastfeeding

Infographic
4/19/2021
VAX Fact Breastfeeding

An infographic answering the question of whether you can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Appenzeller emphasizes: Get COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where

Article
4/16/2021
Military personnel explaining forensic equipment

The DHA’s Combat Support assistant director had some direct and encouraging words about the military’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to date.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Tele-critical care will play increased COVID-19 response role in 2021

Article
4/15/2021
Infographic that says "202 tele-critical care successes will help 2021 COVID19 response"

Virtual health and particularly tele-critical care for critically ill patients assumed frontline roles in sustaining care while keeping beneficiaries and health care teams safe.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Join Us!! Third COVID-19 Townhall Update with Major General George Appenzeller!

Article
4/13/2021
MHS and Military OneSource COVID-19 Townhall, with Major General (Dr.) George N. Appenzeller.  Wednesday, 14 April, 1 PM ET

Join us for the MHS' Third COVID-19 Townhall with Major General George Appenzeller

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DOD surpasses 2 million COVID-19 vaccines worldwide

Article
4/9/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The DOD hit the 2 million mark for vaccinations worldwide just a month after the 1 million milestone.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Public health remains an integral part in the fight against COVID

Article
4/9/2021
Infographic featuring health personnel wearing face shields and mask with "National Public Health Week" across the top of the picture

The pandemic has highlighted a need to provide more advanced training on infection prevention and control.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention | Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Children’s well-being contributes immeasurably to force readiness

Article
4/6/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask in the back of a truck

The Defense Health Agency joins in celebrating military children during Month of the Military Child, observed in April, and always.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids

Telemedicine advances put to the test during pandemic

Article
4/1/2021
Uniformed service member stands behind wall of computer screens

COVID-19 has led to the need for physical distancing and has overwhelmed the capacities of health systems, compelling many to adopt telehealth solutions.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Research and Innovation | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Lovell FHCC staff steps up to create formidable COVID-19 team

Article
3/30/2021
Military health personnel preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccination effort at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois, has brought out the best in staff.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DOD healthcare leaders give COVID-19 update, praise DHA personnel

Article
3/30/2021
Picture of Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr. Ronald Place providing a COVID-19 update at  the Pentagon

Dr. Terry Adirim and Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place provide update on COVID-19 vaccination progress and offer thanks to MHS workers for their contributions.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Dover Air Force Base features ‘Park ‘N Pickup’ pharmacy

Article
3/26/2021
Picture of prescription sitting on a counter

Due to the increased need for patient safety, the 436th Medical Group pharmacy at Dover Air Force Base has implemented a Park ‘N Pickup process.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Patient Safety

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 136 - 150 Page 10 of 23
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 15, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery