Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

MHS operational innovations continue in battle against COVID-19

Image of Two medical personnel, wearing full PPE, in an operating room. Army Maj. (Dr.) Douglas Ruhl, a surgeon at Madigan Army Medical Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, uses the COVID-19 airway management isolation chamber (CAMIC) to perform a mastoidectomy, which removes a growth behind the eardrum. This procedure requires drilling into the skull, creating bone dust and aerosolized droplets. (Photo courtesy of Douglas Ruhl.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation | | Health Care Technology | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Health Innovation Toolkit

Operational medicine performed by deployed military medical personnel has always driven innovation, and this was more important than ever in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Military Health System innovations in 2020 include a new registry for real-time COVID-19 data and a system to free up hospital beds and protect patients from the disease. Service Members also developed inexpensive ventilator designs and adapted safer ways to transport and perform surgical procedures on COVID-19 patients.

Meeting the need for real-time COVID-19 data, the Joint Trauma System (JTS) developed a global COVID-19 registry to track patients and their outcomes.

The COVID-19 registry exceeded 90,000 patients in the Department of Defense as of the first week of December, said JTS Chief, Air Force Col. (Dr.) Stacy Shackelford. The registry began collecting real-time COVID-19 data in May.

The JTS is conducting detailed patient chart analyses of the COVID-19 registry to look at items such as deaths within the MHS and other COVID-19 subpopulations of interest, Shackelford said. So far, 3,200 charts have been analyzed.

“In general, the registry has an important capability to look at treatments and outcomes. That’s our number one goal,” she said. For example, the registry compares outcomes of COVID-19 available treatments including convalescent plasma, steroids and remdesivir.

“Our number two goal is long-term tracking of patients and links to other outcomes,” Shackelford said.

Image of a hospital bed with a platform with holes designed for a patient lying face down.
A pronating shelf (foreground) was designed to improve a COVID-19 patient’s ability to breathe through a ventilator while face down in an ICU bed. The shelf, with cutouts for a patient’s face, was prototyped at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (Photo courtesy of Keesler Air Force Base.)

The registry could track active duty personnel’s annual physical fitness tests for lingering COVID-19-related results, or the annual periodic health assessment, to which the JTS plans to add questions related to mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic, she added. Additionally, “the registry is tracking genetics testing down to the granular level so we can tap into a look at clinical outcomes that would be available to other scientists.”

Members also developed innovative ways to modify the care environment to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients, like a pronating shelf and a low-cost ventilator.

The pronating shelf, prototyped at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, helps COVID-19 patients breathe while lying prone (face down) for hours while on ventilators. Previously, patients in this position using a ventilator had their head and neck turned at a difficult angle, which often obstructed airways. The Keesler pronate shelf supports the head while keeping it in proper position to use the ventilator.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) in Florida developed low-cost, easily-assembled ventilators to expand access to these life-saving devices. The ventilators were designed as part of a challenge across hundreds of submissions and entered the prototype phase.

The challenge came during the initial surge in the pandemic, and the Navy ventilators were intended as stop-gap measures should ventilator supplies have dwindled across the nation or if COVID-19 numbers surged beyond U.S. hospitals’ capacities. These units were tested at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Military medical personnel, wearing masks and gloves, loading a COVID-19 patient into an isolated containment chamber
Airmen assigned to the 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron transfer a COVID-19 patient following the first-ever operational use of the Negatively Pressurized Conex to transport 12 patients aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on July 1, 2020 to receive higher level of care at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. The NPC is the latest isolated containment chamber developed to transport up to 28 individuals with infectious diseases. (Photo by Air Force Airman 1st Class John Wright.)

The first commercially produced version of the Navy’s PRE-Vent is being built for a final round of U.S. Food and Drug Administration testing that aims to prove the design can be manufactured from biocompatible materials and pass stringent agency guidelines for emergency use authorization. The build should be completed this January and then sent for evaluation to the FDA.

The ventilators can be assembled from materials commonly found at hardware stores with a cost of $300 to $600, significantly less than commercially available ventilators. The ventilators can be built on the fly to address patients’ breathing assistance needs in field hospital settings.

Transporting COVID-19 patients by air led to another innovation to protect patients, providers and aircrew during flight.

The Air Force’s Negatively Pressurized Conex (NPC) allows for the safe air transport of patients exposed to COVID-19 without risking the aircrew’s health by surrounding patients within a negatively pressurized containment system. This system allows for the transport of up to 24 infected personnel seated or up to eight stretchers. Thus far during this global pandemic, the Air Force has successfully completed some 65 COVID-19 aeromedical evacuation missions.

The need to protect health care workers from COVID-19 led to the development of the COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber, or CAMIC. CAMIC is a an adjunct personal protective equipment (PPE) barrier device constructed by placing a large clear plastic bag on a PVC piping box frame over the head, neck and shoulders of patients. When used with other PPE, CAMIC protects health care personnel by providing a physical barrier to aerosolized droplets from patients with COVID-19 by capturing and removing viral particles emitted by the patient. CAMIC was conceived, designed, built and tested by the Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.

In a similar vein, researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center created an individual biocontainment unit that uses negative pressure to suction the air from around a patient and filter out viral particles.

While 2020 proved to be an active year for operational medical innovations because of the global pandemic, the MHS continuously develops creative protocols, systems or devices that can be used in austere environments where energy sources are limited and where the military is deployed.

You also may be interested in...

Anyone Can Get Vaccinated

Infographic
7/1/2022
Anyone Can Get Vaccinated

Now that anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, share this graphic to encourage your community to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Vax Fax: Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Infographic
7/1/2022
Vax Fax: Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Some people may be eligible for a second booster shot. Share this graphic to communicate who may be eligible.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Vax Facts: Should I Get a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Infographic
7/1/2022
Vax Facts: Should I Get a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot?

This graphic outlines eligibility requirements for a first booster shot.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Mask Guidance

Infographic
7/1/2022
Mask Guidance

Mask Guidance for Department of Defense Facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

Dr Robert Marshall

Photo
6/21/2022
Dr Robert Marshall

Dr. Robert Marshall is the program director of the Department of Defense Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | MHS GENESIS

How MHS GENESIS will become essential to patients' health journey

Article
6/21/2022
Dr. Robert Marshall, program director of the Department of Defense Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Ensuring proper training of both providers and patients is essential for the successful integration and sustainment of MHS GENESIS into MHS care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Care Technology | MHS GENESIS Toolkit | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | MHS GENESIS

20-004

Policy

Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

How Military Medicine Is Preparing for the Next Conflict

Article
6/8/2022
As the Pentagon prepares today’s force for a “near-peer” fight against a large military adversary, the Military Health System is challenged to provide life-saving support for large-scale and dispersed operations.

As the Pentagon prepares today’s force for a “near-peer” fight against a large military adversary, the Military Health System is challenged to provide life-saving support for large-scale and dispersed operations. That’s especially true for the medics supporting troops on the front lines.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Care Technology

BDAACH Enhances Its Surgical Capability Through Robotic Surgical System

Article Around MHS
6/6/2022
Surgical hospital

Three years of dedication to activating the robotic surgical system in the Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital (BDAACH) finally came to fruition on May 16, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Research and Innovation

After Leading Through the Pandemic, TRICARE Pharmacy Chief Retires

Article
5/27/2022
Pharmacy Services

How COVID-driven changes are improving the TRICARE Pharmacy System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Care Technology

How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Photo
5/18/2022
How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Army Lt. Col (Dr.) Robert Cornfeld explains how MHS Video Connect's convenient, secure, and easy-to-use virtual video visit capability helps providers keep patients on mission and improves engagement with them, directly leading to better health outcomes.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology

How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Article
5/18/2022
Army Lt. Col (Dr.) Robert Cornfeld explains how MHS Video Connect's convenient, secure, and easy-to-use virtual video visit capability helps providers keep patients on mission and improves engagement with them, directly leading to better health outcomes.

Open to all active duty service members, retirees, and their families enrolled in a military hospital or clinic, MHS Video Connect empowers patients to meet with their military health provider virtually through live video on any internet-connected computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Health Care Technology | MHS Video Connect | Information for Providers | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 60
Refine your search
Last Updated: March 07, 2022

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.