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. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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...

U.S. Army Medical Team Administers COVID-19 Vaccines in Guam

Article
4/29/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask administering the COVID-19 vaccine

Army medical professionals assist in administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to local Guamanians.

Recommended Content:

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

Military kids are resilient, but far from immune to pandemic effects

Article
4/28/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask holding up posters for Month of the Military Child

Military children are known for being resilient to constant change, but COVID-19 has affected their mental health, too.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Staying Resilient | Coronavirus

COVID-19 remote patient monitoring pilot marks initial successes

Article
4/27/2021
Photo of Army Maj. Daniel Yourk

Virtual health and other digital health technologies are an essential part of care delivery going forward for all patients, and especially the most vulnerable.

Recommended Content:

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

Join Us!! Fourth COVID-19 Townhall Update with Lt. Col. Matthew T. Swingholm!

Article
4/27/2021
Fourth MHS Town Hall announcement with image of Lt. Col. Matthew T. Swingholm, discussing the Critical Need for Blood Donations, Wednesday, April 28 at 2 p.m. ET

Join us for the MHS' Fourth COVID-19 Townhall Update with Lt. Col. Matthew T. Swingholm

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

From coast to coast, Navy personnel helping stop COVID-19 spread

Article
4/26/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask getting people ready for the COVID-19 vaccine

From coast to coast, Navy Medicine personnel are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

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

DHA’s immunization health care specialists support vaccine rollout

Article
4/26/2021
Image of military personnel getting COVID-19 vaccines ready. Click to open a larger version of the image.

The Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Health Care Division specialists were instrumental in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines to Department of Defense military medical treatment facilities around the world.

Recommended Content:

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

DHA Appointing Portal simplifies signing up for COVID-19 vaccination

Article
4/23/2021
Image of military health personnel wearing a face mask scheduling COVID-19 vaccine shots. Click to open a larger version of the image.

A new online and easy-to-use COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal is rolling out around the world at Military Treatment Facilities. It needs some tweaking on the admin end, users say.

Recommended Content:

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

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

Donate Blood: It's Mission Critical

Video
4/21/2021
Donate Blood: It's Mission Critical

The pandemic has affected nearly every part of our lives, including reductions in blood donations. Find a military blood donor center today to donate blood in a safe environment where we take all precautions against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 121 - 135 Page 9 of 36

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.