Back to Top Skip to main content

COVID-19 amplifies importance of Trusted Care culture

Image of soldier holding up a badge that says "Trusted Care." An Air Force airman holds up his Trusted Care badge at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. (Photo by Josh Mahler.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Preparing for the unexpected has long been an essential part of the military ethos. While you can never fully prepare for something like a global pandemic, the best alternative is having a culture in place that empowers your team to adapt and respond to heightened uncertainty.

For Air Force Medicine, this is the Trusted Care culture.

The vision for Trusted Care has been around for a few years, with the aim of building and nurturing a culture of safety and high reliability throughout the Air Force Medical Service. But the importance of this culture shift has been amplified throughout the COVID-19 fight.

“When an aircraft is experiencing an emergency, the pilots refer to their emergency procedures checklist to narrow down what the cause is, where the smoke is coming from and how to alleviate it,” said Air Force Col. Michele Shelton, special assistant to the Air Force Surgeon General for Trusted Care. “While we didn’t have an emergency checklist for the magnitude of pandemic we were facing with a previously unknown virus, what we do have is an established culture to guide us.”

“In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic,” Shelton continued, “we’ve been able to build on past disease response and rely on the principles of high reliability as our culture checklist to guide us through these challenging times.”

The goal is to create a team of innovators focused on patient safety.

During this pandemic, the Trusted Care culture has been on display through problem solving and innovation from the front line. Specifically, in the development of processes or acquisition of resources to protect both patients and staff. These daily wins in the fight against the virus are attributable to the Air Force Medicine team as a whole.

Air Force Senior Airman Olivia LeBoeuf, a biomedical equipment technician, 15th Medical Support Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, knows the importance of adapting to the situation. Her team, which is responsible for readying critical medical equipment, decided the best way to approach social distancing would be to work through the night in shifts. LeBoeuf rapidly certified and repaired an onslaught of non-contact thermometers and ventilators, even stepping in to train others on the equipment.

“Early on we were all concerned that if COVID-19 hit Hawaii hard, how we would be able to respond, and if we would have enough equipment available,” said LeBoeuf. “I was fortunate to know how to calibrate and repair the ventilators we had in storage, and I was given the opportunity to train Army counterparts on this process as well.”

“It was a great experience, because it enabled me to interact with a variety of units on base that I usually would not have and to be a part of their mission,” said LeBoeuf. “It’s always great to be able to share knowledge.”

Trusted Care’s problem-solving mentality also has a direct impact on patient care. Air Force Maj. Mark Gosling, a registered nurse, 81st Medical Group, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, worked with the critical care team and his Simulation Laboratory team to step in and modify the design of their intensive care unit beds to optimize them for ventilated COVID-19 patients.

“The patient is always our number one focus, but this frame of thinking is even more important when you’re dealing with critical care from a COVID standpoint,” said Gosling. “When you’re using ventilator techniques on a patient, they can’t tell you what they’re feeling, or if they’re uncomfortable. They’re completely dependent on you and how in tune you are with their needs now and throughout their care. So we need to be thinking multiple steps ahead.”

“Much of the COVID-19 response has forced us all to do critical care medicine in a way we’ve never done it before. It’s about chronically adapting and learning as we go how to best treat this virus and save lives,” said Gosling.

Due to the importance of these implications, the AFMS has followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish policies and procedures to prevent the spread of the virus between the medical facility and the home.

“We’ve instituted the option for staff to change into freshly laundered scrubs at work and change back into uniform or civilian attire when leaving,” explained Ferdinand Blaine, infection preventionist, 96th Medical Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. “The staff can bring home or spread this virus unknowingly, so cleanliness, hand hygiene, common surface area cleaning, staying home when sick, social distancing and wearing a mask or face covering are the keys to defeating this virus.”

The medical group even instituted a “Hy5” hand hygiene campaign, which adopts the practice of saying “High Five” to fellow staff members as an inspirational reminder to perform hand hygiene. The Hy5 campaign extends from the treatment facility into their homes. Medical Airmen understand the importance of maintaining the routine to keep themselves and their families healthy.

Medical airmen, like those with the 96th Medical Group, overcame challenges through creativity as the pandemic expanded. Teams developed ways to safely handle, clean and dispose of contaminated linens and trash while managing personal protective equipment supplies. Relying on guidance from leadership and CDC guidelines, they built self-assuredness in protecting against this new virus.

Trusted Care culture comes down to leadership at all levels of the AFMS, especially in a time when Air Force medical capabilities have become increasingly vital.

“We’ve seen time and time again, our clinicians and non-clinicians working through the complex challenges this virus has brought on the AFMS, let alone, the world,” explained Shelton. “As our Airmen have endured, they have exemplified resilience, in putting people first, taking care of their teams, doing the right thing and seeing the big picture.”

“When you think about Air Force operations, historically the primary operators have been pilots. They are the tip of the spear, the front line, what makes the Air Force the Air Force,” said Shelton. “While the medical community has always been a support function to front line operations, during this pandemic the focus shifted and the medical community has stepped in and become the operator, the tip of the spear.”

At the end of the day, when it comes to challenging situations, the AFMS was built to handle the pressure, and the Trusted Care culture will continue to provide the way.

You also may be interested in...

Secretary of Defense Video to the Force on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Video
2/24/2021
Image of soldier looking through COVID vaccine information laid out on a table

The Secretary of Defense addressed the entire workforce to encourage informed decision-making with regards to coronavirus-19 vaccination.

Recommended Content:

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

Trained military personnel ready to help with COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
2/23/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask giving the COVID-19 vaccine to a man who is also wearing a face mask

Military prepped and ready to help with civilian COVID-19 mass vaccinations

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunizations

DOD participates in new COVID-19 antibody combination prevention trial

Article
2/23/2021
Woman gets blood drawn

Five DoD sites across the United States will be part of the STORM CHASER trial, a study to observe the efficacy of a long-lasting antibody product to prevent COVID-19 among people who have been exposed to others suffering from the disease.

Recommended Content:

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

Marines, Sailors with PHIBRON 11, 31st MEU receive COVID-19 vaccine

Article
2/19/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 Vaccine to military personnel

Vaccination for service members is voluntary, as vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

USU cohort study investigates COVID-19 impacts on DOD personnel

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask and a face shield holding up a sign that has the number eighteen on it

USU is conducting a study to better understand the symptoms and course of COVID-19 disease and identify risk factors in the military population.

Recommended Content:

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

COVID-19, Influenza provide twice the challenge to healthcare workers

Article
2/17/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask while holding hand sanitizer

The ongoing pandemic outbreak has overlapped with the annual Northern Hemisphere influenza season.

Recommended Content:

Influenza Vaccine Availability | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility, immunization experts say

Article
2/16/2021
Black and white photo of a couple holding hands

COVID-19 vaccination when pregnant or breastfeeding shows no harm, immunologists weigh in.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DHA IT helps beneficiaries, providers and workforce through pandemic

Article
2/12/2021
Several military personnel, wearing masks, filling out paperwork. One woman is giving the thumbs up sign

DHA IT Teams Deliver Innovative Solutions During Pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Coronavirus

Printable VAX Fact Should Children Get the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

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

Printable VAX Fact Will TRICARE Cover the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

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

Printable VAX Fact Getting COVID and Flu Vaccine at Once

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

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

Printable VAX Fact Can I Get COVID-19 From the Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

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

Printable VAX Fact How Many Doses of the Vaccine Will I Get?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

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

Printable VAX Fact Who Can Get the Vaccine Now?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

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

Printable VAX Fact How Much will the COVID-19 Vaccine Cost?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26

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.