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Washington state’s COVID director visits Army Medical Center

Admiral Bono wearing a mask speaking to a soldier Retired Navy Vice Admiral Dr. Raquel Bono, former director of the Defense Health Agency and current Washington State Director for COVID-19 Health System Response Management, visited Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington in late August. (Photo by Ryan Graham, Madigan Army Medical Center.)

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The Pacific Northwest was the first area in the United States to see cases of COVID-19. Madigan Army Medical Center located aboard Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington is within an hour of the initial hotbed of infection and is one of the Department of Defense’s largest military treatment facilities. It saw COVID-19 patients early on and continues to treat active duty service members, retirees and family members who require medical care.

Retired Navy vice admiral Dr. Raquel Bono, who recently served as the director of the Defense Health Agency and now is the Washington State Director for COVID-19 Health System Response Management, visited Madigan in late August, to get a firsthand look at the MTF’s efforts to adapt operations to treat patients while also addressing safety concerns over virus transmission.

Bono took note of Madigan’s flexibility in its COVID response.

Madigan Commander Army Col. Christopher Warner said Bono was impressed by, “The flexible leadership and adaptive responses to continue to ensure the delivery of high quality health care while ensuring the safety of patient and staff from COVID-19. Of particular note was the large scale integration of virtual technology.”

Warner guided Bono on a tour of the facility’s main COVID-19 outposts – the screening and testing tent set up in a parking lot to remove potential infection from the main facility, the inpatient ward that has been converted to a COVID-19 unit to ensure proper isolation of patients, the Virtual Critical Care Center from which staff has been able to render care and monitor patients in need of intensive care while limiting direct contact where possible and the facility’s labs that have developed a variety of testing protocols to support response efforts and guide clinical decision-making.

Following the tour, Bono had a chance to hear from the medical personnel who have been at the forefront of pandemic operations. From staff in Preventive Medicine to the Emergency Operations Center and all of the deputy commanders at the hospital, Bono got a complete rundown of the past six months of planning, preparation and execution of adaptation seen at the medical center and the significant medical and consultative support Madigan has given to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the surrounding community.

Warner personally invited Bono to make the visit, and though it lasted just a couple hours, he could see it left an impression on her.

“She was happy to see the integrated efforts including our coordination with state and local public health and emergency management leaders into our information and decision making processes to ensure a synchronized response with the community while maximizing our ability to continue to perform our mission. She specifically highlighted the community outreach by the installation through the recurring Facebook town halls to ensure everyone stayed informed,” said Warner.

Madigan’s hospital commander, chief medical officer, preventive medicine chief and other medical specialists have been integral parts of the base’s COVID-19 informational efforts, to include its bi-monthly Facebook Live events that can be seen on its page at: https://www.facebook.com/JBLewisMcChord/.

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