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

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Image of Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas. Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place speaks to the audience during a Views from the Top educational session at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society 2021 annual conference at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, August 11.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Health Readiness Support

In the spring of last year, the massive coronavirus outbreak aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, was a jarring wake-up call for many senior military leaders about the impact that the pandemic could have on military readiness.

The carrier reported hundreds of COVID-19 infections and was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Guam for almost two months. That was among the early “alarm bells” that forced the Pentagon to ask hard questions that had wide-ranging implications.

“This is a United States carrier group operating to keep sea lanes open across the Pacific, now pulled out of that responsibility due to a severe COVID outbreak on board that ship,” said Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place, during a recent discussion of the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“How can we safely keep ships at sea? How do we deploy submarines? How do we launch aircraft? How do we manage troop movements around the world with this? The answer is information. Specifically, health information,” Place said. “We needed it right, we needed it fast and we needed it to make decisions on how to manage the pandemic and still preserve our ability to project a fighting force.”

Place provided insights into the decision-making process of senior Department of Defense leaders regarding health care early in the pandemic when he spoke to hundreds of health care professionals who gathered recently at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society 2021 annual conference in Las Vegas.

Place cited COVID as the number one cause for reduced readiness over the past year. He also said that the pandemic impacts almost all areas of mission readiness.

“It takes aircraft carriers away from the mission. It has the potential to ground airplanes, keep submarines in port. It takes healthcare workers out of their usual work and makes them do other things, perhaps in other areas of the country. It slows down our ability to process and train new recruits…in other words, it essentially effects everything,” he said.

Among the first steps to address the expanding pandemic last year were to develop a task force and a testing strategy, Place said.

Another important element that Place said helped the DOD’s efforts in combatting COVID early in the pandemic was standardization, especially in the language and terminology used to discuss the problem among military officials around the world.

“Initially, local leaders doing what they thought they had to do, fast, were using their own words to describe some of these tests,” Place said. “That’s fine for local decision makers, but it’s not so great when you’re trying to look at trends. We needed to standardize.”

Place said line leaders and health informaticists in the fleet and field quickly reached an agreement on what nomenclature was going to be used and standardized it, “essentially overnight.”

“We need to be smarter, and faster, and more disciplined in getting the right solutions to clinical providers,” said Place. “COVID’s not going away. How much it continues to consume our waking hours is at least partially up to us. It’s up to us to become better listeners.”

Place said at least part of becoming better listeners is a focus on patient-reported outcomes.

“Their outcomes are expressed differently than how clinicians like me typically express them, but they’re just as important – likely they’re even more important,” he said.

Place had three main points that he saw military health care leaders embody in the current crisis and that he hoped those in attendance at the conference would take away:

  • Explain and manage risks
  • Trust is the coin of the realm – know your data, and be confident in its accuracy
  • Embrace transparency

Place also reminded the audience that the DOD’s mission around the world doesn’t stop, even for a global pandemic.

“We in the military don’t really have the luxury to work from home,” he said. “Home is where the mission takes us – from Iraq to Afghanistan to Africa or Asia and exercises with allies, humanitarian responses – it never stops.”

Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, also spoke at HIMSS21 as part of the Views from the Top series earlier in the week.

You also may be interested in...

Clinic doors open wide for those wanting COVID-19 vaccine

Article
4/21/2021
Military personnel administering the COVID-19 vaccine

All eligible and authorized Department of Defense personnel can now get a COVID-19 vaccine if they want one.

Recommended Content:

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

Laboratory professionals play important role in fight against COVID-19

Article
4/21/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask prepares COVID-19 test samples

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 18-24, recognizes the behind-the-scenes work laboratorians do to generate clinical lab results and, ultimately, guide the courses of treatment for patients.

Recommended Content:

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

From COVID-19 testing to MHS GENESIS support, lab techs do it all

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask using a blood analyzer machine

To describe what lab techs do, Geisler chose a famed fictional detective to illustrate their importance and provide context.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Keesler uses post-vaccine waiting period to identify routine care gaps

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask administering the COVID-19 vaccine

15 minutes is all it takes to get routine health care back on track.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Tanker medics from McConnell AFB are fighting COVID-19 in St. Paul

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing face masks hugging

Tanker Medics from McConnell Air Force Base travel to Minnesota to help fight COVID-19

Recommended Content:

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

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 | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Fact Protection Last

Infographic
4/19/2021
VAX Fact Protection Last

An infographic answering the question of how long the COVID-19 vaccine protection lasts.

Recommended Content:

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

VAX Fact Currently Pregnant

Infographic
4/19/2021
VAX Fact Currently Pregnant

An infographic answering the question of whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you're currently pregnant.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | Health Innovation Toolkit

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 | 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 Month | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 121 - 135 Page 9 of 31
Refine your search
Last Updated: March 11, 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.