Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates,
As front-line protectors of our Sailors, Marines and their families against the coronavirus, I want to provide you with an update of our efforts, highlight the great work Navy Medicine is doing to support our country and share my intent for the way forward as we meet this unprecedented challenge with the full force of our Navy Medical Power.
PEOPLE: First, I want to thank all of you for your hard work and commitment to our nation in this time of great challenge as we face this global pandemic. We are taking all necessary measures to protect our active-duty, reserve, and civilian work force. Protecting our people is our top priority. To that end, all DoD installations are operating at HPCON level Charlie and starting March 31, all medical and dental treatment facilities will postpone most elective surgeries, invasive procedures, and dental procedures for 60 days. These actions will enhance medical staff safety, prolong the supply of personal protective equipment, and allow us to refocus our skills and expertise directly to the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
PLATFORMS: As I write this, USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) is pulling into the pier in Los Angeles. Tomorrow, the crew, which includes almost 100 volunteer reservists, will begin seeing patients. The goal is to unburden the Los Angeles Health Care System of non-COVID-19 patients so that its providers can focus on the care of those afflicted with the virus. USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), also supplemented with reserve volunteers, will sail from Hampton Roads this weekend and be on station, ready to see patients in New York City by the beginning of the week. Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) – Mike assigned to Naval Hospital Jacksonville has been activated, and an additional EMF is on standby awaiting notification. Combined with our existing deployments around the world, almost 4,000 Navy Medical personnel are out forward, protecting our nation. This will be the largest deployment since Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Those who remain at our medical treatment facilities are also on the front lines in this fight given the ubiquitous nature of this virus.
PERFORMANCE: As we collectively face this challenge head on, teamwork, and an even greater vigilance to ensure continued safe, high quality care will be critical. We also need to be willing to rethink our usual hierarchies of care. Those not directly involved in treating COVID-19 patients should seek out opportunities to support those who are. As our primary care clinics and emergency rooms get busier with COVID patients, I would ask our specialists to lean forward and treat conditions within their specialty areas without the requirement for a consultation where feasible. The unprecedented nature of this situation means that we must adapt quickly at the local level. As an organization that values high velocity learning as the means by which we continuously improve the quality of our performance, please practice rapid cycle feedback within your work teams and share the lessons you learn widely so that our entire organization can benefit.
POWER: You and the critical work that you are doing is the source of Navy Medicine’s power. Whether you are on the front lines treating patients; in the laboratory processing diagnostic tests, doing the science necessary to defeat this pathogen, or providing the support that keeps our system running, YOU need to stay healthy. This campaign will be a marathon, not a sprint. Find a sustainable battle rhythm and monitor your energy level. Know when to take a knee and recharge your batteries, both physically AND mentally. Practice all of the recommended preventative measures to protect yourself and your family. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. Stay in close touch with those who matter to you and reach out virtually to those who would benefit from your moral support. We are the medical experts our Sailors, Marines and their families rely upon for their health and readiness. Preserve your health so that we can preserve theirs. Thank you for YOUR compassion, professionalism, and selfless dedication to duty.
The mission may be non-traditional, but you have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to fight and win. This challenge will be no different. To the people of the world, just the sight of Navy Medicine on the horizon fills them with a sense of hope. Now we get to instill that same sense of hope to our own Nation.
Stay strong America….We are on our way!
With respect and admiration, SG