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...

From Ghana to Washington, Sailor provides leadership during COVID-19

Article
9/10/2020
Female soldier with mask

Acquiring supplies, in general, has been a hurdle worldwide.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Thirteen years ago Ft. Knox prepared for outbreak scenarios

Article
9/10/2020
Front page of newspaper

Some of the preventive measures that surfaced from the 2007 exercise included the wearing of facial coverings, regular sanitizing of surfaces and social distancing by such means as teleworking.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

JHIEs give providers better access to patient information

Article
9/8/2020
Man looking at X-Ray

The joint HIE securely connects DOD, VA, U.S. Coast Guard and hundreds of other select federal and private sector partners with patient health and benefit information data.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Joint Health Information Exchange | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | MHS GENESIS Toolkit

The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Video
9/4/2020
The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the American workforce. This year, we pay tribute to the Military Health System Workforce.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

USU & JTS lead global COVID-19 Grand Rounds

Article
9/4/2020
Woman in hospital bed surrounded by military health personnel.

A Military Health System-wide virtual clinical case conference led by the Uniformed Services University (USU) and hosted by the Joint Trauma System (JTS) offers physicans best practices and lessons learned during the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DHA Director visits Naval Hospital Pensacola

Article
9/4/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place saluting to soldiers

During his visit, Place showed his appreciation to those that have been committed to excellence.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Washington state’s COVID director visits Army Medical Center

Article
9/3/2020
Admiral Bono wearing a mask speaking to a soldier

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

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DoD closing in on COVID-19 convalescent plasma collection goal

Article
9/2/2020
Technician wearing a mask, looking at different blood products

How to help DoD beneficiaries fighting COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Armed Services Blood Program

MHS GENESIS improves patient experience for military families

Article
9/1/2020
Image of a military doctor and a family

How the electronic health record benefits military children

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | MHS GENESIS Toolkit

USAF doctor strives to advance women leaders in military medicine

Article
9/1/2020
Photo of Dr. Yun

While the military has come a long way regarding females in the higher ranks, Yun sees more progress to come.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Women's Health | Coronavirus

WRAIR bids farewell to first all-female command team

Article
8/31/2020
Image of two soldiers, wearing masks, passing a flag. Click to open a larger version of the image.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, WRAIR dove headfirst into efforts to prevent, detect and treat SARS-CoV-2 with 22 research proposals and nearly $75 million dollars in funded projects.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Camp Zama veterinary medicine continues during COVID-19

Article
8/28/2020
Two veterinary personnel wearing masks examine a dog

[T]he facility’s team does everything possible to make patients feel comfortable.

Recommended Content:

Veterinary Service | Coronavirus

Dr. Fauci delivers COVID-19 update at joint Grand Rounds

Article
8/26/2020
Two men in masks; one a military soldier, and the other wearing a suit.

Leading expert gives update on COVID fight to military medical community.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Grateful for COVID-19 recovery, DHA employee becomes plasma donor

Article
8/26/2020
Woman eating a snack

DoD aiming for 10,000 units donated by end of September.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | Coronavirus

Airman uses SBAR to improve COVID-19 swab technique

Article
8/25/2020
Military personnel in full PPE at a car window demonstrating a swabbing technique

A Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) report is part of Trusted Care.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus
<< < ... 21 22 23 24 25  ... > >> 
Showing results 301 - 315 Page 21 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.