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

Army Lt. Gen. Ron Place and two soldiers stand at a table with COVID-19 testing supplies Defense Health Agency director, Army Lt. Gen. Ron Place, visited medical personnel at a COVID-19 screening station outside the Emergency Department at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. WRNMMC instituted additional safety measures including separate entry points for staff and patients to screen for coronavirus symptoms on March 12, 2020. (MHS photo by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Benson)

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Coronavirus

Who would have imagined this? We’ve stopped almost everything else we were doing and turned our energies toward fighting this pandemic. As the specific impacts take shape within the United States, the Military Health System is surging forward, implementing standing plans and showing agility in responding to events that some believed were unthinkable even a few short months ago.

Federal and state officials are requesting military medical forces to assist in stemming the spread of infection both directly and indirectly. Hundreds of thousands of professionals who are supported by the relatively young Defense Health Agency are reinforcing our civilian medical capabilities. Just as we’ve done throughout our history, when the U.S. military is called in times of crisis and natural disaster, we answer.

Military medicine is providing assistance in unprecedented ways. Already, two hospital ships, the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort, are positioned in Los Angeles and New York City, respectively, providing much needed additional medical capability to civilian medical facilities overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. The Army has also established field hospitals in New York and is increasing bed space elsewhere with the phenomenal work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s the right thing to do, right now.

In the best of times, the primary mission of the Military Health System is to maintain a medically ready force and a ready medical force. This means we must ensure American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are medically ready to deploy anywhere, anytime to defend the Nation. It also means we must develop and sustain our own medical teams to be trained and ready to support the force. Shifting focus from this primary mission carries risk; however, after two decades of conflict, we are well prepared to both identify risk and develop strategies to mitigate it.

This is not theoretical. We’re taking actions with tangible effects. For instance, we are rapidly shifting as many physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals as we can from administrative duties to direct patient care. We’re plowing new ground by graduating new doctors and nurses months early from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the military’s medical school, so they can join the fight – now. In our military hospitals and clinics, we’ve limited elective medical and dental procedures, so we can decrease surgical inpatient needs, shift clinical staffing toward COVID response, and conserve medical resources for the COVID fight.

Additionally, we’re identifying patient bed space on military installations and planning how to quickly convert – or return to use – unused space, with all of the needed equipment and supplies. That means, in some cases, converting office space once used as patient rooms when our military was twice the size, back to treatment areas. Fighting this pandemic is all-hands-on-deck. No good idea is off the table.

The reassuring news is that the Military Health System is, in some ways, uniquely suited for this crisis. Just as every Marine is a rifleman, every medical provider in our system is a generalist. While many of our health care providers normally do focus on specific diseases or specialties, they are trained to treat patients across the range of needs wherever they’re called to serve. Agility is part of what we offer our nation every day.

Facing multiple challenges is nothing new for us. Together, across the levels of government, we can do this. At this extraordinary time, we can play a significant part in caring for citizens in need, while still ensuring our military forces are medically ready to defend our Nation. With the support of the 9.5 million beneficiaries who depend on us for their health care, our agile and dedicated Defense health team is surging thousands of service members to the front lines, helping our fellow Americans, and meeting our obligation to the nation’s sons and daughters who have volunteered to defend them.

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DHA-PI 6205.01: Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

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This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (n), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA's) procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits.

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

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This Defense Health Agency (DHA) Interim Procedures Memorandum (IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance cited in References (e) through (aa), establishes the DHA’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This DHA-IPM applies to DHA, DHA Components (activities under the authority direction, and control of the DHA), Military Departments (MILDEP), and the United States Coast Guard (CG). This DHA-IPM cancels and replaces DHA-IPM 20-004, “Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation,” December 13, 2020.

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

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Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
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DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

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Establishes the DHA procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) within military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). This memorandum replaces DHA-Policy Memorandum 20-003 of July 1, 2020. Attachment 1 was updated to include the 2021 procedure and diagnosis codes for COVID-19, including the new vaccination and treatment codes.

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

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

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This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. 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.

DHA-AI 3020-01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

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This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (b) and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (z3), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This DHA-AI also provides a preventive plan to monitor and assess for the appearance of new cases and implement those processes that will prevent them from impacting the workforce. The processes describe herein are intended to offer an actionable plan for the workforce to re-enter DHA Administrative Offices. See Appendix 1 for a summary of the DHA Administrative Office Reopening Plan. The plan uses the Force Health Protection Guidance and Health Protection Conditions (HPCON), in accordance with Reference (d), to ensure protection for the workforce, including the most vulnerable-to-serious complications from the virus while enabling DHA Administrative Offices to continue its mission. See Appendix 2 for the conceptual HPCON framework.

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DHA AI 3020.01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Environment

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