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

Senior Medical Leaders Discuss COVID-19 Response

Image of Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency making remarks. Click to open a larger version of the image. Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, makes remarks during a panel discussion on the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Post-Pandemic National Security at the Sea-Air-Space Conference and Exposition at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, August 4 (Photo by: Jacob Moore, MHS Communications).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

At the beginning, the key to tackling the emerging COVID-19 pandemic was to quickly develop a comprehensive understanding of the virus, and then put a plan in place to fight it, explained Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency.

Place's remarks came during a panel discussion on the COVID-19 response and post-pandemic national security at the Sea-Air-Space Conference and Exposition at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Maryland, August 4.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Eric Thompson, vice president and director of strategy, policy, plans and programs for the Center for Naval Analysis, and included Place, Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. (Dr.) Bruce Gillingham and Coast Guard Rear Adm. (Dr.) Dana Thomas, director of health, safety and work-life for the Coast Guard.

Early in the pandemic, Place said, the mission of military and public health officials was, first and foremost, to understand how to frame the problem.

"What is it? How do you diagnose it? How is it transmitted? How can you protect yourself from it? How can you treat it? What are the right diagnostic tools?" were some of the questions asked in early 2020,Place said.

Another concern Place shared was whether the Department of Defense had the correct systems in place to combat the disease, either at individual locations or throughout the department.

Quick action and early understanding of the virus drove the number of DOD laboratories that were able to test for COVID-19 from 11 in February 2020 to approximately 177 currently.

The integrated nature of the Military Health System pre-pandemic greatly assisted in DOD's readiness, Place said.

"We have a system in place that knows how to [integrate care]. We have a system in place that knows how to talk to each other. We have a system that has a centralized logistics arm, a centralized pharmacy arm. We already had on-the-shelf pandemic plans," said Place.

While perhaps not perfect or designed for a pandemic on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic these pre-existing plans helped position the DOD to respond.

Military personnel on a panel
A panel on the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Post-Pandemic National Security hosted by Dr. Eric Thompson, vice president and director of strategy, policy, plans and programs for the Center for Naval Analysis, and consisting of Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. (Dr.) Bruce Gillingham and Coast Guard Rear Adm. (Dr.) Dana Thomas, director of health, safety and work-life for the Coast Guard, speaks to audience members at the Sea-Air-Space Conference and Exposition at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, August 4 (Photo by: Jacob Moore, MHS Communications).

Gillingham added that these plans extended to working with other agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to support the civilian pandemic response outside of the DOD.

"To General Place's point, the framework was there. The way that we were set up within the Military Health System lent itself (to the response)," said Gillingham. "Early on, we established a really good battle rhythm of interagency coordination."

He also commended Place and the DHA for their coordination of vaccine distribution.

"Hats off to General Place and his team at the Defense Health Agency for providing the central coordination, and establishing and leading the OPT, the Operational Planning Team to say, "how are we going to distribute the vaccine?" and then working through the services to execute," said Gillingham. "That really is a very effective model that I think we can leverage into the future."

Gillingham said that he is continuing to push his sailors to get vaccinated and, for him, getting vaccinated is a "game changer."

"We continue to push for our force to get vaccinated. It's a readiness issue for us, first and foremost. If you're vaccinated, you're much less likely to get very ill or be hospitalized, so you're going to be in the game," said Gillingham.

We would not send our folks into combat without flak and Kevlar. The enemy, this time, is a virus and we have a biological body armor for them to take and use to protect themselves," he added.

Place also took the opportunity to remind those in attendance that the battle against COVID-19 is not over.

"I think one of the things that many of us believe - which is a fallacy - is that [COVID-19] is going to go away. It's not going away, just like influenza is not going away. And the thing about many viruses is they tend to mutate, and they tend to do things that keep them alive."

He noted, however, that the DOD medical team has an "insatiable curiosity," and that medical research within the department is in a continuous process of improvement.

The full discussion can be found here.

You also may be interested in...

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Oregon National Guard surging to support hospitals again

Article Around MHS
1/27/2022
Oregon Army National Guard touring a hospital

Hundreds of Oregon National Guard members are increasing support of hospitals throughout the state in their second hospital relief mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Readiness Capabilities

Public Health nurses offer insights on living with COVID-19 now, looking into future

Article Around MHS
1/25/2022
The Challenges of Living with COVID

One of the more challenging jobs for any public health professional is dealing with unpredictability inherent in outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
1/18/2022
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

This is my Why

Article Around MHS
12/30/2021
Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

So others may breathe - Navy Medicine Respiratory Therapist cares for COVID casualties

Article Around MHS
12/13/2021
Military Health personnel posing for a picture

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tessa Hazard, a respiratory therapist, recently deployed to Alabama as a member of a COVID-19 response team.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

Retired colonel leads Fort Irwin COVID response mission

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
Army Col. Richard Hopkins, the COVID-19 response coordinator with Weed Army Community Hospital, collects paperwork from a Soldier who received the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event.

Retired Army Col. Richard Hopkins volunteered under the Army’s COVID-19 Retiree Recall Program to return to service as the COVID-19 response coordinator for Weed Army Community Hospital and Fort Irwin, California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

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.