Surgeon General

SG’s Message – Words That Define Us

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Esteemed colleagues:

At this time last year we were happily awaiting the Fourth of July holiday, relishing the opportunity for outdoor recreation, barbecues, and relaxing with our friends and family.  Little did we know, a year later, we would be facing the prospect of a fifth month of restrictions in our daily life including social distancing, the need to wear facial coverings, and the loss of our cherished freedom of movement.

We begin this summer very different as we continue to face an adversary that shows no signs of backing down.  Recent trends, in fact, demonstrate a concerning increase in cases affecting all of our Navy and Marine Corps team, to include Navy Medicine personnel.  How will we respond to this ongoing challenge?  For me, four words that describe Navy medicine’s foundational characteristics provide the answer:  resolve, persistence, toughness, and resilience.

Resolve:  to decide firmly on a course of action.  As the Navy’s medical force, our war fighters and their families look to us to provide the expertise to protect them.  They also look to us as role models for how to behave and act in this challenging environment.  We must demonstrate the resolve to practice what we preach and become the standard-bearers for how to overcome this adversary.

Persistence:  firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.  Time and again, Navy Medical personnel have demonstrated the ability to fight through adversity to complete their mission.  We are no strangers to sustained, superior performance.  Now more than ever, staying the course, even in the face of what may seem like overwhelming odds and insurmountable challenges, is critically important.

Toughness:  the ability to deal with hardship or to cope in difficult situations.  Toughness is a core Navy attribute.  We relish the opportunity to show others that we have what it takes, no matter the circumstance.  When the going gets tough, Navy Medicine gets going.  As our Navy motto attributes – Semper Fortis.

Resilience:  the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  A key characteristic of high reliability organizations is that they take a hit and come back stronger.  SARS-CoV-2 has hit us hard, but much like the USS Constitution, we are built of sterner stuff.  As a learning organization, we know knowledge is power and each encounter with our adversary has made us stronger.  Every day the insights gained by our scientists, public health experts, and medical teams have made us more powerful.  We use this power for the benefit of those that we have the privilege of protecting.  We thrive on the opportunity to grow and adapt.

Resolve, persistence, toughness, and resilience…these words define our incredible team and the characteristics that will see us through this challenge.  As our Nation finds itself in the midst of this generational struggle, know that you are the living embodiment of these words, and it is you who gives Navy Medicine its power to prevail.  Thank you for all you do and please know what a privilege it is to serve alongside you.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Message from the SG – Brilliant on the Basics

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates,

Michael Jordan once said, “Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” The fundamentals are the basics. They are not always the most exciting thing to learn or do, but they are usually the most important. People, teams, and organizations who achieve greatness, do so by mastering the fundamentals – and then sticking to them. You have probably heard me say – we all need to be brilliant on the basics.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent us from contracting this disease; however, when it comes to our collective battle against COVID-19, we need to continue to practice and encourage others to follow the fundamentals of force health protection to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus. Continue to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, monitor your health for symptoms, and enforce restriction of moment.

As medical professionals, we must continue to educate and advise our Sailors, Marines, and family members to stay the course. To help turn fundamentals into habits requires repetitive action. I’m reminded of a basic teaching formula: you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand. And when you truly understand, that is when the basics become part of our DNA. Think muscle memory!

This week marked the 122nd anniversary of the Hospital Corps. As we continue to adapt and confront the challenges posed by this pandemic, the men and women of our Hospital Corps remain a powerful presence on all fronts in the fight against COVID-19. Whether serving as IDCs on surface ships, subs, or diving units; as preventive medicine and laboratory technicians, as general duty Corpsmen at MTFs, or the 8404s embedded with Marine units, our ability to project Medical Power continues to rest on the shoulders of these brave and dedicated Corpsmen.

The recent exploits of Corpsmen during the pandemic have only added luster to the distinguished history of the Corps:

  • The quick thinking of the USS KIDD’s IDC and his two fellow “docs” in medevac’ing a suspected case of COVID and implementing newly developed mitigation procedures helped reduce the impact of the disease aboard the warship.
  • Five HMs attached to the Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s Rapid Response Team helped ensure the success of an unprecedented mission, conducting testing of the USS KIDD’s crew while helping to provide vital medical support 24/7 in a COVID exposure environment.
  • Corpsmen serving with forward deployed preventive medicine teams have remained an early, active, and ever-present force in novel coronavirus surveillance efforts at sea.

And whether contact tracing, onsite testing, administering to patients, or helping to enforce DoD and CDC COVID-19 guidance, our Corpsmen remain at the vanguard of ensuring warfighter readiness across the Department of the Navy.

This month also offers a palpable reminder that Summer is in full-swing and many may be eager to travel or enjoy recreational activities since restrictions have loosened up across the country. Before executing any plans, please take a moment to review NAVADMIN 168/20 regarding our current leave, liberty, and TDY restrictions; as well as the Naval Safety Center, 101 Critical Days of Summer found here.

Please continue to use good judgement, follow existing guidelines, remain vigilant, and most importantly stay safe.

It is important that we all take time to step away from our jobs to decompress, and all of us are eagerly anticipating returning to a sense of normalcy. However, as we try to rediscover what has been lost, let us not forget everything that we have learned along the way. If I had one wish, it would be that you could see the organization from my perspective, as the brilliance you have all demonstrated on the basics have been the building blocks of all that Navy Medicine has accomplished. I am truly humbled to be part of this amazing team.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – Continuing to Deliver

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Colleagues,

It is hard to believe, but June marks six months since we first detected COVID-19 in the United States. During this time, our Navy and our Nation have changed in ways that would hardly seem recognizable at the end of 2019. One thing that has remained consistent is that Navy Medicine has stood on the front lines of this fight, bringing Medical Power to our Navy and Marine Corps team.

This is now the new normal and we must learn to sail, fight, and win in this environment. Throughout the early rounds of this battle, Navy Medicine’s kinetic responses were easily visible on every TV and made every headline. Whether it was the sight of two Hospital ships sailing into harm’s way to respond to our country’s needs, or the story of our Expeditionary Medical Facilities rapidly deploying to support our fellow citizens in need, Navy Medicine met the enemy head on. Now, we must shift from this initial response phase to one that builds the strength and resilience of our force so they can operate and succeed this new environment.

Using rapid cycle feedback and continuous learning, we are taking the lessons learned of this initial phase and leveraging them to shape our future strategy. A real life example of this is seen with our work with COVID Convalescent Plasma (CCP). Two weeks ago, the DOD announced the use of the FDA-approved CCP as an investigative treatment against COVID-19. CCP is collected from the blood of individuals whose immune systems have developed antibodies against COVID. Within hours of the newly established policy, we rapidly collected CCP from volunteers aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71); and over the course of three days, the blood bank/donor center at USNH Guam had collected more than 200 life-saving plasma units. This was the first of many donations as crew from the USS Kidd (DDG-100) also contributed plasma. Navy Medicine will continue to be at the forefront of this effort to gather CCP from Sailors and Marines who have recovered from this disease, and we will use it to treat those who become seriously ill.

Over the last six weeks, TR has also been the focus of a public health outbreak investigation conducted by Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This investigation was conducted with volunteer crewmembers who were asked to complete a short survey and provide two specimens for laboratory testing (voluntary blood and nasal swab samples). This is the first CDC published report on this specific demographic of young adults and one of the key findings was that loss of taste or smell was the main symptom most associated with the COVID-19 infection. This joint investigation broadens our understanding of this disease and will inform future testing and mitigation strategies to ensure the readiness of our fleet and force. I recommend you take the opportunity to review the published findings at www.cdc.gov/mmwr.

As our knowledge about the coronavirus continues to expand, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protect the health of our force based on the best available scientific evidence. This is why we exist and it remains our solemn obligation to care for and support America’s Service members and their families. Despite the complexity of this adversary, because of your incredible dedication and unwavering support, we will continue to deliver …Medical Power in Support of Naval Superiority.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – Stronger Together

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Navy Medicine Family,

This week the world witnessed the 8 minute and 46-second video which showed the tragic death of George Floyd, an African American man and father. As I watched this disturbing image, I was outraged and sadly reminded that countless people of color continue to experience and endure disparate treatment, injustice and racism today.

This is an emotionally raw and painful time for many and the countless global demonstrations against social injustice further highlight the fact that racism, prejudice and discrimination continue to exist. But unlike the coronavirus that we have been fighting over the past months, we can’t just stay at home and socially distance ourselves from racism. But we can do our part to lead with purpose, inspire others with our actions, break down racial and ethnic barriers. I encourage you to be a part of the solution and fight it, through collaborative and constructive efforts, and not divisive, destructive, and violent activities.

I am sensitive to the fact that the events that have taken place over the last couple of weeks have impacted each of us in different ways. This gives us good reason to reach out to our follow Sailors, Marines, and co-workers and have meaningful conversations. Now, more than ever, we must work on listening – truly listening – to each other. Active listening is what the best doctors, nurses, corpsmen, medical professionals, and leaders do. When we hear what people are saying, it increases our understanding and helps to bridge a divide. As medical professionals, we know that listening is the first step in healing.

As your Surgeon General, I want to emphasize that Our One Navy Medicine family is fully committed to the principles of diversity and equality and will not idly stand by. We will continue to discuss these issues and engage in further dialogue to make positive change that can help ensure we are demonstrating mutual respect, a foundational element of our core values. We will focus on our aspirations and how we’ll turn these in to actionable steps that we can take to ensure we are stronger, more cohesive and more effective as a team. Our unique histories and experiences make us better as a Navy and Marine Corps team and as a Nation. I thank each and every one of you for who you are and all that you do to demonstrate that we are stronger together.

SG Sends

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, AOA
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG Message – One Team One Fight

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Esteemed Colleagues,

The stress and anxiety over COVID-19 remains significant throughout our country.  Aside from the unknowns surrounding this contagion, the pandemic has introduced limitations to daily social life, forced individuals into lengthy periods of isolation, and spurred concerns over financial matters.  For those who are beginning a ROM status, this state of stress can feel intensified.

As we continue to confront the challenges we face from COVID-19, we must all have the confidence that regardless of the setting, we never work alone, nor should we feel that we have to suffer in silence.  No one is alone in this fight – our One Navy Medicine team must remain vigilant and help those most in need.  This pandemic has touched each of us in one way or another.  Many of us know someone directly affected by this virus, and emotions are difficult to process when you are restricted from being with them.  Sadly, many have been laid to rest without their loved ones present –and this tragedy in itself is on a greater level for our Sailors and Marines.

We are all leaders no matter where we sit in the organization, and I expect each of you to reach out to your colleagues and shipmates to see how they are doing.  In addition to our formal mechanisms of PDHA and PDHRA, I ask that we continue to engage and stay close to these individuals and provide them all the time and support needed as they transition back to their regular duties.

Throughout this fight against COVID-19, our mental health providers have taken on the onus of responsibility, and although their roles are often unsung, the work they do each day has been commendable.  Whether at the MTF setting or with embedded mental health teams, our psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, behavioral health technicians, and Navy Chaplains continue to leverage principles of high velocity learning to be resourceful and innovative while enhancing mission readiness.  Below are a few examples I would like to share with you:

  • Special Psychiatric Readiness Intervention Team (SPRINT).  In early April, we mobilized a SPRINT to Guam to provide needed assistance to the TR Sailors in quarantine at the time.  In collaboration with the 3rd Medical Battalion, Naval Hospital Guam and the Guam Chaplain Corps, this SPRINT used innovative methods to deliver remote Psychological First Aid.  These very methods continue to be impactful and have been used at other commands since.
  • Virtual Peer Support.  Through its Caregiver Occupational Stress Control program, Naval Hospital Jacksonville pioneered a website enabling virtual peer support for those dealing with stress at the hospital.  In addition, providers with Naval Medical Center San Diego developed a web tool to help personnel manage everyday stress.
  • Telehealth.  Throughout this fight, many of our providers have also begun to embrace telehealth and this has been especially true for mental health specialists.  Telehealth continues to serve as a significant tool allowing for that provider-patient connection when there are movement restrictions.  This capability is destined to grow more robust in this new normal.

In closing, please remember that there are many avenues to getting healthcare and counseling and there is NO WRONG WAY to access it!  I can assure you that regardless of where you serve or what you do, NO ONE IS ALONE IN THIS FIGHT – you will always have the full force of Navy Medicine’s power with you.  Together, our talent, knowledge, toughness, creativity, and teamwork will get us through all the challenges we face from COVID-19 and will emerge a stronger and even more capable organization.

In a time when the Fleet and Marine Corps have never needed us more, you are making a positive difference for them every day.  Thank you!

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG Sends

V/R,

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, AOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – The Flame That Cannot Be Extinguished

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Dear Esteemed Navy Medicine Colleagues,

More than a hundred years ago, Florence Nightingale offered us the following words of wisdom: “Nursing is an art, and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.”  The devotion to the “art of nursing” is on full display for the world to see as Navy nurses continue to answer our Nation’s call and serve on the frontlines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we recognize National Nurses Week and the Nurse Corps Birthday on 13 May, we celebrate the care and evidence-based practice and innovation these medical professionals bring every day to help our Sailors, Marines, and fellow Americans get well and stay healthy.

A critical component to improve the wellness and readiness of our force as we battle COVID-19 is to increase our arsenal of knowledge about the virus.  In previous weeks, I discussed the dynamic efforts of the Navy Medical Research and Development (NMR&D) Enterprise in adapting to the challenges caused by this pandemic. In addition to operating within sea, air, land, space, cyberspace, and logistical frameworks, we must now fight against emerging pathogens and infectious diseases to protect America and our national security interests.  To this end, our teams of scientists and researchers have been spearheading innovative countermeasures that will successfully supply us with vital data needed to operate in what Adm. James Foggo calls the “seventh domain” of warfighting – the biosphere.

Recognizing the importance of collecting medical data to help our country defend against COVID-19, Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) recently initiated the first-ever comprehensive research study to examine the serologic, clinical, and epidemiological aspects of the virus among young, healthy populations.  The aim is to support the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s medical mission to achieve maximum recruit health and meet graduation requirements and standards during the pandemic.

On May 4, NMRC commenced the COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines (CHARM) study at Parris Island and the Citadel.  All study findings will be provided in real-time, in an effort to inform operational leaders with actionable information to help protect our Force and preserve war-fighting capabilities and readiness.  This study will help inform future decisions regarding isolation and quarantine, identify personnel infected with mild or no symptoms, and help determine when recruits can safely return to training.  Additionally, we hope to grasp a better understanding of how our bodies fight the virus by obtaining blood, saliva, and nasal samples that we can use to develop or improve tests, vaccines, drugs, and other countermeasures.

The road ahead will not be without challenges, but with the expertise of our NMR&D scientists, our public health teams, and Navy medical professionals on duty around the world, we will come out of this stronger and more mission ready.  Every day our scientists, nurses, corpsmen, doctors, and medical support staff actively continue to leverage the principles of rapid-cycle feedback to share lessons learned and inform future decision which help Navy and Marine Corps leaders mitigate the long-term impact of COVID-19.  Through it all, the spirit and light of Florence Nightingale’s raised “little lamp” is kept alive and burning brightly because of the skill and dedication our One Navy Medicine Team brings to the fight every day.

With my continued respect and admiration, SG

V/R,

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, AOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – Of These Things Miracles Are Made

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Dear Esteemed Navy Medicine Colleagues,

Naval superiority means fighting and winning against enemies on the sea, on land, and as is the case with COVID-19, even in the Biosphere.   This is where we truly see the real Power of Navy Medicine in action and the impact our incredible high-performing teams are having in combating this invisible adversary.   Because of YOUR significant, selfless and incredible efforts, we are having dramatic effects on mitigating the spread of this disease, protecting our Navy and Marine Corps team, and maintaining mission readiness.  Together, WE have deployed the largest force of medical personnel since Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, nearly 30 years ago.  WE have deployed almost 4,000 Sailors on our hospital ships and in civilian medical facilities around the country, working shoulder-to-shoulder with local health care providers during this crisis, and we remain committed to sustaining this effort for as long as our nation requires.  WE are flat out making a difference!

Last week the Chief of Naval Operations commended our speed and professionalism when a Sailor suffering respiratory issues was medically evacuated off the USS KIDD (DDG 100).  Within hours of the Sailor’s test coming back positive for COVID-19, NMRTC Jacksonville deployed a special seven person medical team to conduct contact tracing, do onsite testing aboard the ship and to support the Independent Duty Corpsman in caring for his patients.  Although the medical team didn’t expect to find themselves on a DDG in the Eastern Pacific when they went to work that morning, their rapid response provided critical support to the ship and demonstrates why we all need to maintain a high state of personal and unit readiness.

USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD 8) rendezvoused with KIDD to establish a COVID-19 afloat medical response.  MAKIN ISLAND embarked a fleet surgical team to provide intensive care unit capability, ventilators, and additional testing.  Together, providers from the KIDD and MAKIN ISLAND worked tirelessly to test and care for patients who tested positive.  The KIDD is now in San Diego where NEPMU-5, NHRC, and NMRTC San Diego are fully supporting her return with pier side testing and follow on health surveillance screening services for Sailors placed in quarantine or isolation. Fortunately, none of the sailors are currently hospitalized.

The coronavirus is a new pathogen and we are rapidly implementing lessons learned through operationalized mitigation and prevention efforts.  Sailors and Marines aboard the DDG and LHD have directly benefited from the logistical and medical experiences we have gained in our support of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71).  From our research scientists and public health experts, to our medical professionals deployed forward and serving at home, we are collecting, analyzing, and leveraging data to prepare our warfighters to operate in this new warfighting domain.

Our staff at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam has been doing much of the “heavy lifting” in providing twice daily health surveillance screenings, administering nasal swab testing, and delivering daily medical support and care to those in need.  Importantly, they continue to collaborate with other medical assets on Guam (3rd Medical Battalion, USAF’s 36th Medical Group, a SPRINT from NMRTC San Diego, and TR’s medical department) to ensure the TR is ready to execute its mission.  Similarly, I know commands across Navy Medicine are working hard each day to provide nasal swab testing and health surveillance support to units across enterprise, including Carrier Strike Groups and Marine Corps Recruit Depots.

Although we are far from defeating this virus, the Navy is aggressively applying COVID-19 lessons learned.  As a prudent measure, every Sailor deploying in our next Carrier Strike Group aboard the USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) was placed in a pre-underway restriction of movement and to further ensure they deploy COVID-free, testing of more than 7,000-plus Sailors is presently underway.  Similar plans are being conducted for future deploying ships and subs; including SSBNs. The coordination performed by Navy Medicine assets in both fleet and medical treatment facilities to make this happen reflects the continued value and importance of operating as a ONE NAVY MEDICINE team.

Finally, as DoD shifts into a “stabilization” phase in the COVID-19 fight, we will soon welcome back the COMFORT to Norfolk.  The hospital ship served as a powerful symbol of hope and resilience during this crisis.  The men and women of the COMFORT did a commendable job bravely going into harm’s way to serve at the epicenter of the virus, treating severely ill New Yorkers.  They shall return to “Ready 5” status and remain ready for future tasking.

Thank you for your continued collaboration, coordination, communication and most importantly, the care you bring to your work and to the well-being of your families, co-workers and yourself. We are in the early stages of this marathon. A steady, sustained pace, recharging ourselves physically and mentally along the way, will continue to be a key factor in our ability to project the full force of our Navy Medical Power.

It has been said that an individual can make a difference, but that only a team can make a miracle. Whether you are contributing by holding the fort at your MTF; teleworking from your kitchen table while grading your child’s homework or caring for your family members; deploying to one of our nation’s community hospitals to link arms with and relieve exhausted civilian medical staff or underway on the vanguard of freedom YOU are a critically important part of the Navy Medicine team. We are a team that is remaining steadfast in its resolve to protect and defend our shipmates and our fellow citizens. Of such sustained dedication and commitment miracles are made.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG

 

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Message from the SG – When Can Navy Medicine Get There?

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates,

As you know, our One Navy Medicine Team is on the front lines of this fight combating COVID-19 on multiple platforms and working across many disciplines.  Last week I shared with you several examples of how our clinicians are stepping out of their traditional roles to provide “boots on the ground” health care support in this national emergency.  Our clinicians remain a vital part of this effort, and they are not alone in the fight.

This past Monday, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center professionals partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct an outbreak investigation in Guam with volunteers from the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  The purpose of this investigation is to gather data which will help inform future testing strategies, operational planning, and COVID-19 mitigation measures to ensure the readiness of Navy ships and our Force.

Since the coronavirus outbreak was first recognized, our scientists from Navy Medicine’s Research & Development enterprise immediately began to harness the power of our global network of laboratories to help develop vaccines and therapeutics against SARSCoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  Our research experts are looking at operational needs and working to develop countermeasure products that will make their way down to the deckplate.  Our Navy Medicine Researchers are focusing on four priorities:

  • Producing purified human anti-SARSCoV-2 polyclonal antibodies.  Naval Medical Research Center has partnered with Sanford Applied Biosciences to produce human neutralizing antibodies from humanized cows (Tc Bovines) that can potentially be used to treat COVID-19 infected patients.  When administered to at-risk individuals exposed to COVID-19 infected patients, these Tc Bovine-derived human antibodies may prevent infection or significantly reduce illness associated with a secondary COVID-19 infection.
  • Psoralen-inactivated SARSCoV-2 vaccine.  Developing an inactivated whole virus COVID-19 vaccine using a flexible vaccine development platform that is based on the use of a psoralen compound, which interrupts virus replication by inactivating viral genes, while leaving the outer virus proteins largely intact.  These intact outer virus proteins in psoralen-inactivated vaccines promote a better immune response compared to standard formalin-inactivated vaccines where the outer virus proteins may be distorted or destroyed by the formalin inactivation method leading to a less robust immune response.
  • Phage-based COVID-19 vaccine.  Designing a multi-subunit phage-based vaccine that will be ready for testing within weeks.  They have secured funding for purification, manufacturing, and large-scale throughput to prepare numerous Current Good Manufacturing Practice vaccines, identifying optimal polyvalent vaccines prepared for phase I clinical trials.
  • Spearheading a robust and field-deployable rapid diagnostic test suited to meet shipboard demands.  Navy researchers are working with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on gene editors that could operate as rapid detectors of pathogenic threats.  The development initiative is called “Detect it with Gene Editing Technologies” to enable biosurveillance detection of any threat, anytime, anywhere.

We are eager to see these projects contribute to our fight against COVID-19 and Navy Medicine continues to make meaningful progress by leveraging high-velocity learning to be resourceful and innovative.  I would like to note, that the contributions from our doctors and scientists are not always conducted bedside or from a lab bench.  In Lima, Peru, team members from Naval Medical Research Unit Six were recently recognized by the State department for stepping up to support the repatriation efforts of over 7,000 U.S. citizens stranded in Peru and transport them back to America.  When there is a challenge before us and people are in need, the men and women of our One Navy Medicine Team are there to provide help and support.

Whatever your role, I want each of you to know that your contributions continue to make a difference.  It is a well known fact that our Navy is the 911 force for our Nation and often the first words uttered by our leadership in the time of crisis is “When can the Carriers get there?”   Because of the Power that you bring to this fight and the immediate game-changing impact you are having, the first thing I’m hearing is “When can Navy Medicine get there?”  Thank you for your responsiveness, dedication, and professionalism to our Sailors, Marines, families, and our fellow citizens.  You are the game changers in this fight!

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG Sends

Message from the SG – The Power of Navy Medicine

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates,

I have never been more proud of our organization and the amazing work you do in support of our Nation and the U.S. Navy.  The power of Navy Medicine is one of the most important weapons in our country’s arsenal and we are making a difference by bringing it to bear against this invisible adversary all across the globe.  In his update to all Navy Flag Officers and Senior Executive Service personnel the Vice Chief of Naval Operations wrote yesterday:  “Our Surgeon General, and the entire Navy Medicine team have been working 24/7 since this pandemic began, and even with Navy providing over 70% of DoD’s deployed medical forces, they are leading DoD research efforts on COVID prevention, testing and immunization solutions.”  You are doing an incredible job during these challenging times and your effort and impact in this fight are recognized daily throughout the Navy and Marine Corps.

We are a solution-focused organization which leverages high-velocity learning to be resourceful and innovative, especially in the face of our current national emergency.  As our One Navy Medicine team continues to learn more about the coronavirus, the scientific and medical counsel we provide to our Sailors, Marines, and their families will evolve as well.  We will also improve our processes for how we marshal and deploy our forces; maintain, transport and deliver vital supplies; improve communications up and down our chain-of-command; and how we can take better care of our people.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, I recently challenged our Clinical Communities to take a hard look at how we can provide additional support by employing all qualified providers directly in COVID-19 care, irrespective of their specific specialties.  Not surprising, they responded.  We are seeing great examples of our clinicians stepping out of their traditional roles to fulfill boots on the ground support and standing watch to help meet the growing demand for COVID-19 health care support.  Below are a few concrete examples. In the coming weeks I will share and highlight more with you:

  • Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton:  Dental officers stand ready to care for any urgent dental needs AND have integrated with their medical colleagues to serve a vital role in the hospital’s COVID-19 response plan.  They are now serving on the “front line” in the flu tents and providing essential screening and triage to patients.
  • Naval Hospital Bremerton.  Expanded partnerships with the state’s Northwest Healthcare Response Network and the Washington State Hospital Association to develop a crisis standard of care flow path, which improves closer coordination in triage and send patients to available beds.

The imperative to move out of our comfort zones is not new.  This is what we do, and I am confident you feel the same way.  During my career, particularly in operational settings, I leaned heavily on my experience as a GMO and undersea and diving medical officer to care for patients, long after I became an orthopedic surgeon. Although we have many subspecialized doctors, nurses, corpsmen and ancillary support personnel we are all care-givers at heart. I appreciate your ability to reconnect to those fundamental skills that initially attracted you to a medical career, especially your caring and compassion as we work to defeat this adversary. I am greatly encouraged by the use of virtual health, particularly in psychological health, to ensure continuity of care for patients.  All of us are under tremendous stress, and the availability of support services is reassuring — particularly during this crisis.

I encourage you to visit https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2020/03/15/u-s-navy-covid-19-updates/ and familiarize yourself with the U. S. Navy COVID-19 Mitigation Framework and the U. S. Navy COVID-19 Prevention Framework.  Both documents provide our operational leaders with actionable information, help protect the Force, and preserve warfighting readiness.  Importantly, they reflect the critical support that our Navy Medicine public health, research and development, and emergency preparedness experts, along with many others, have and continue to provide.  Now more than ever, our leaders are relying on us for sound force health protection advice and recommendations.

In closing, I want you to know that while we are operating far from our comfort zone, our strength as a team of dedicated expeditionary medical professionals will see us through this crisis and we will emerge even stronger and more mission ready. My heartfelt best wishes to you, your loved ones and the American people fortunate to have you in their corner.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG Sends

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, AOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Message from the SG: What the Women and Men of Navy Medicine Do

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates,

Navy Medicine continues to serve on the front-lines of our Nation’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are medical professionals working together as high-performance teams to bring the full power of Navy Medicine to our mission and to our country.  We were built for this mission and the work you are doing reflects our One Navy Medicine strategy.  We are all fully engaged in support of this national emergency – Fleet and Fleet Marine Force medical personnel and MTF providers and staff, as well as our public health, research and development, emergency preparedness, and logistics experts.

This week our hospital ships, USNS Comfort in New York and USNS Mercy in Los Angeles, arrived on scene and immediately established relationships with local and state health officials bringing our skills and expertise to those hardest hit.   As we speak, our teams are providing care to those most in need and are beginning to ramp up the number of patients they are treating.  Our hospital ships may be our most visible symbols of Medical Power but they are part of the wider MHS support network.

The Navy, along with the Army and Air Force, have deployed Expeditionary Medical Facilities (EMFs) to provide urgent care to areas impacted by COVID-19.  Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s EMF – Mike split into two teams. One will be working in New Orleans caring for COVID-19 patients under investigation who are awaiting their test results but unable to return to private residence for self- quarantine. The other team is in Dallas awaiting final assignment.

Volunteer Navy Medicine reservists have immeasurably strengthened our One Navy Medicine team. After assessing that their absence would not negatively impact the health care response of their own communities, these dedicated professionals stepped up to augment our support to our country. They are deployed on board USNS MERCY, USNS COMFORT, serving at our medical treatment facilities and also staffing Expeditionary Medical Facility Navy Reserve-Bethesda that has been activated to support New York City.  Regardless of the mission, they, like all of you, are at the epicenter of protecting the health of Sailors, Marines, families, and our fellow citizens.

Make no mistake; there is demanding work ahead.  We are in this together and leveraging the talents of our civilian, contractor, active duty and reserve communities, we will prevail.   One of our greatest strengths as an organization is that we thrive on rapid cycle feedback to improve the quality and the safety of the care we provide.  We are never content or complacent. We thrive on providing and receiving rapid cycle feedback, widely sharing not only our successes but, more importantly, what we have learned from our failures.  Just as we refined our approach to combat casualty care to achieve unprecedented survival rates, we will continue to apply best available clinical and research evidence to adjust fire and defeat this adversary.  That is what high velocity learning organizations do.

The members of a strong, resilient organization understand the value of clear, bi-directional communication. Keep in regular communication with your team and actively reach out if you feel you are “out of the loop.” Stay at home orders and long solo hours of tele-work also risk creating a sense of social isolation. Remember, social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. The same technology that allows you to tele-work also allows you to connect with family and friends. Taking care of yourselves and families should be a top priority and is essential for mission readiness.   Don’t be afraid to walk away from your computers and take a break.  Get some fresh air and exercise.  And if you need to talk to someone please do so.  Communication is a sign of strength not weakness.  There are numerous resources within Navy Medicine and throughout the Navy to provide support if you need it.

  We have much to be proud of.  All of us are enduring changes in our work routines, lifestyle and our way of life but this has not changed our focus on the important work ahead.  Many of you are putting yourselves in harm’s way on behalf of our shipmates. Now we also have the privilege to bring our expeditionary medical expertise to bear on behalf of our families, friends, and neighbors.  As we confront this challenge, have confidence that regardless of the setting, we never work alone.  As the Surgeon General, I can assure you that the full force of Navy Medicine’s power is with you. Together, our talent, knowledge, toughness, creativity and teamwork will get us through this and we will be a stronger organization as a result.  Communicate clearly, strive to improve every day and keep yourself and those entrusted to your care safe.  That is what the women and men of Navy Medicine have always done and that is what we will always do.

With my respect and admiration, SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery