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...

From the front lines to the home front, Military Medicine is always ready

Article
4/1/2020
Army Lt. Gen. Ron Place and two soldiers stand at a table with COVID-19 testing supplies

Military medicine is providing assistance in unprecedented ways

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Coping with the stress of social distancing

Article
3/31/2020
Image of person alone in room

How to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

Possible changes at MTF pharmacies in response to COVID-19

Article
3/31/2020
A military pharmacist choosing medication from a shelf

Find out the latest pharmacy policies at MTFs

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | TRICARE Health Program

Meeting Italian COVID-19 requirements, Army reopens dining facility

Article
3/31/2020
Picture of chef preparing food

The dining facility is fully operational, even providing food deliveries to people in quarantine

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

Defense Health Agency takes action against COVID-19

Article
3/30/2020
Image of medical worker  putting on gloves and a mask

From call centers to hospital reform, the Defense Health Agency is working quickly to keep citizens safe from the novel coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

USNS Comfort to join New York's COVID-19 fight

Article
3/30/2020
Reservists in camouflage uniforms stand in line to check in

The Comfort is 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the people of New York, said Trump

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

200 new doctors, nurses to join military medical ranks early

Article
3/27/2020
Military medical professionals take their oath at their graduation from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences during a ceremony in Washington, May 18, 2019. More than 200 USU military medical students and graduate nursing students will be graduating early in 2020 to support their colleagues in the U.S. military health system amid the global coronavirus pandemic. (DoD file photo)

Military medical students will be graduating early to support the Military Health System amid the coronavirus pandemic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military scientists, engineers develop ventilator prototype in response to COVID-19

Article
3/27/2020
Dr. Andrew Schicho, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division mechanical engineer, led one of the five teams by building a ventilator prototype in support of the Department of Defense Hack-a-Vent Innovation Challenge. (U.S. Navy photo by Eddie Green)

The team decided that building ventilators was how they serve the best at a time like this.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Need for blood donations constant despite COVID-19

Article
3/26/2020
Medical soldiers from the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, host a blood drive at Fort Bliss, Texas. The need for donated blood is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Cindi King)

Limited shelf life, canceled blood drives threaten supply

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

In a COVID-19 world, pace yourself to stay resilient and avoid burnout

Article
3/26/2020
Kelly Blasko, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the lead for mobile health clinical integration at the Defense Health Agency Connected Health branch. She shares what providers can do to pace themselves and use self-care practices and tools to stay resilient and avoid burnout. (DoD photo by Savannah Blackstock)

Our response to COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Nearly 10,000 Guardsmen called up for COVID-19 response

Article
3/25/2020
Army Sgt. Moises Castillo of the California Army National Guard helps an Amador County resident load food supplies into a vehicle at the Interfaith Food Bank in Jackson, Calif., March 23, 2020. (U.S. Army photo illustration by Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

The president left control of the National Guard to the governors and the adjutant generals

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

USNS Mercy departs San Diego

Article
3/24/2020
The hospital ship USNS Mercy navigates the San Diego channel March 23. Mercy deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore base hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense’s missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lasheba James)

Mercy's mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

Recommended Content:

Civil Military Medicine | Civil Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

A full night’s sleep could be the best defense against COVID-19

Article
3/23/2020
Sleep is critical for maintaining physical, cognitive and immunological dominance on and off the battlefield. Leaders must prioritize sleep as a valuable asset in maintaining readiness and resilience, especially in the context of multi-domain operations and increased health risks worldwide – including those risks associated with exposure to infectious diseases (U.S. Army photo by Robert Timmons)

Getting more sleep could dramatically improve your odds of avoiding infection

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Total Force Fitness

Air Force takes steps to assure ‘unblinking’ operations, readiness and capabilities amid pandemic

Article
3/23/2020
Air Force medics and health personnel around the globe are resolutely following and ensuring compliance with guidelines issued by the Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg.

Within the Air Force, our medics are executing all available measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Addressing emotional responses to threat of Coronavirus

Article
3/20/2020
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathleen A. Myhre, 446th Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, meditates outside the 446th Airlift Wing Headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Feb. 12, 2020. Myhre traveled to India in 2016 to study to become an internationally-certified yoga instructor. She now shares her holistic training with Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Even if you’re feeling healthy, medical professionals recommend staying home and limiting social contact as much as possible

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness | Physical Activity | Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 4

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.