Back to Top Skip to main content

DoD aims to fill medical gaps with military while states, cities ramp up

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon to discuss the department's efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, March 23, 2020. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia) Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon to discuss the department's efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, March 23, 2020. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

The Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy will go to Los Angeles to help relieve pressure on hospitals there so they can focus more on COVID-19 patients, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.

"We're working closely with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to set the conditions for the ship's arrival later this week, so that she can start receiving non-COVID-19 medical patients to free up bed space in some of LA's most heavily stressed hospitals," Esper said during a news conference at the Pentagon.

Esper said in the next couple of weeks, the USNS Comfort, currently at Norfolk, Virginia, will head to New York City for the same purpose. The crew and staff there, he said, are preparing for that mission.

Five military field hospitals and expeditionary medical units are on "prepare to deploy" orders, Esper said, and are expected to mobilize this week to various parts of the country. Where those units go, he added, will be based on discussions with FEMA.

"Right now, I anticipate sending a hospital to Seattle and a hospital [to] New York City," Esper said. "Beyond that, once that's confirmed, we will look at sending to other places and, as necessary, we will continue to alert units to prepare to deploy and then deploy them as appropriate."

The hospital ships, military field hospitals and expeditionary medical units must all be manned by medical personnel, Esper said, and a majority of them are drawn from Reserve units. If those personnel are called to active duty to man military medical facilities, he noted, they will need to be pulled from their civilian jobs elsewhere.

"We're very conscious as we draw people to staff up the ships or the hospitals, where we're pulling them from," he said. "You want to make sure that you don't, you know, have an impact on an area that really needs it simply because you're trying to staff up a ship or hospital."

Esper said military medical personnel will also come from active duty units, and he added that DoD is limited in what it can provide if it is going to safeguard the ability to run its own military missions.

The secretary said he sees the military filling gaps in cities that need assistance until those cities can deal with COVID-19 on their own.

During the early stages of the pandemic as cities ramp up capability, DoD can come in for a few weeks to provide that capacity until the cities can convert gyms, hotels and college dorms into medical facilities, he said. "I see us playing this role where we're the gap-filler for a period of weeks with our capabilities, once the capacity is met through these other mechanisms," Esper told reporters

The Army Corps of Engineers is also now beginning work around the country to use contracting capability to convert nonmedical facilities such as hotels, dormitories and other buildings into temporary medical facilities, Esper said.

"Constructing [new] facilities, hospitals, whatnot, would take far more time than it would to take existing infrastructure and convert it," he said.

Esper said the state of New York has been "very aggressive" in identifying sites to be converted. He said the Corps has a four-phase model to make that happen. That includes identifying sites; converting locations to enable them to provide medical capability; installing equipment; and having the state provide medical staff.

"That's the way you can expand capacity in the volume you need – we're talking thousands – but it takes some time," Esper said, adding that he's been in contact with the state of New York and other governors about how the Corps can help.

You also may be interested in...

Supplemental Guidance for Providing DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccines to DoD Contractor Employees and Select Foreign Nationals

Policy

This memorandum provides supplemental guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, in accordance with reference (a). The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components as appropriate.

Barksdale AFB trains medics with Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Article
12/30/2020
Military personnel participating in training exercise, treat a dummy for injuries

Medics of the 2nd Medical Group are becoming a whole lot more lethal, in a good way.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

MTFs respond to COVID-19 with increased telehealth, drive-thrus

Article
12/29/2020
Military physician sitting at desk, talking to patient on his computer

COVID MTF innovations include more virtual health options and drive thrus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Technology

MHS Minute: December 2020

Video
12/28/2020
DHA Seal

See how MHS is leading a phased approach to offer 11.1 million Department of Defense personnel the first COVID-19 vaccines. To learn more about the safety and efficacy behind COVID-19 vaccines, go to: https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Public-Health/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine-Efforts.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

HHS and DOD statements on FDA authorization of Moderna vaccine

Article
12/28/2020
Image with documents and vaccine products laying on table

Operation Warp Speed has allocated more than 5.9 million doses of the vaccine for jurisdictions to receive in the coming week.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Vaccine Trials

Protecting the Force: How the MHS helped sustain readiness in the face of COVID

Article
12/23/2020
Hospital personnel treating a patient on a stretcher

The Military Health System is reviewing how it kept warfighters mission-ready and units online in 2020 during the ongoing pandemic.

Recommended Content:

December Toolkit | Combat Support | Coronavirus

AFHSD’s GEIS collect data worldwide to support force protection

Article
12/22/2020
Medical personnel scanning forehead of soldier with thermometer

AFHSD/GEIS continue work with partners across the globe in their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health | Coronavirus | Biological Surveillance Tools | Global Health Engagement | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

MHS Team Resiliency Awards recognize medical response to COVID-19

Article
12/22/2020
Sailors wearing masks, leaning on a table and writing on sheets of paper

Outstanding efforts recognized during Resiliency Awards

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

Nurse-led research aims to improve battlefield medicine

Article
12/21/2020
Military nurses working on a simulated patient in a helicopter

[O]ne of their goals is to create novel solutions to optimize survival and functional recovery of burn casualties.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Research and Innovation

Military Health System encourages influenza vaccination for 2020

Article
12/21/2020
Military personnel giving patient a flu vaccine in her left arm

The CDC notes that COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people.

Recommended Content:

Influenza, Northern Hemisphere | Influenza, Southern Hemisphere | Influenza Summary and Reports | Coronavirus | Public Health

MHS COVID Response

Video
12/21/2020
DHA Seal

The men and women of the Military Health System spent 2020 working to protect beneficiaries' health during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few of our accomplishments.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Frontline Indiana Guardsmen receive COVID-19 vaccination

Article
12/18/2020
Soldier getting a vaccine in his left arm

These Guardsmen are trained medics who also took Centers for Disease Control and Prevention courses specific to the coronavirus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Defense Health Agency Director: Vaccine rollout safe and effective

Article
12/18/2020
Military personnel giving a vaccine to a soldier in her right arm

“In the coming months as the vaccine becomes more widely available, we strongly encourage everyone to get this vaccine,” Place stressed.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 surge spurs readiness efforts at Brooke Army Medical Center

Article
12/17/2020
Two hospital personnel, wearing masks, looking at a computer screen

Equipped with lessons learned, BAMC is preparing to shift resources and personnel to ensure hospital readiness in the event of a patient increase.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

CDC provides COVID-19 vaccine best practices for healthcare providers

Article
12/17/2020
Medical personnel filling a syringe from a vaccine bottle

[T]he Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division (IHD) is working in collaboration with the CDC to offer the training to the Military Health System’s health care providers.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 52

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.