Back to Top Skip to main content

Nurses stay ready during COVID-19 pandemic

Image of two military nurses talking in a hospital hallway Nurses of all specialties have stepped up to improve and sustain readiness throughout the military. Army Maj. Alex Tatone (pictured), chief of Evans Army Community Hospital's Department of Inpatient Services at Fort Carson, Colorado, created a bed expansion plan that nearly quadrupled their number of critical-care beds, and included training non-ICU nurses to support those beds. (U. S. Army photo by Jeanine Mezei, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | National Nurses Week

Readiness for the Military Health System has two faces: a medically ready force must be prepared to defend the nation, and the readily trained medical force keeps those service members healthy. Military nurses are instrumental to both sides of that coin. During National Nurses’ Week 2020, the MHS recognizes the many ways that nurses improve and sustain readiness for the military.

Nurses continue to serve vital roles in each of the Defense Department’s three main priorities for health care during the COVID-19 pandemic: protecting troops and personnel; helping safeguard the nation’s security missions; and, supporting interagency government efforts to address the pandemic. Nurses serve vital roles in each of these areas, ranging from the front lines of military treatment facilities to data analysis and policy behind the scenes.

If anyone asks Navy Rear Adm. Mary Riggs about military medical readiness, she will say that MHS nurses consider it an everyday activity. Riggs is the interim assistant director for health care administration and interim chief nursing officer at the Defense Health Agency.

As a link between health care providers and their patients, nurses bring medical knowledge and bedside manner that puts both groups at ease.

“They adjusted to what the requirements of the pandemic were in a fearless manner, and quickly adapted to make sure that our patients got the best care possible,” Riggs said. “I think this is a real tribute to how our nurses embrace their profession.”

Riggs attributed this success to a learning culture that has helped nurses expand their skill sets throughout the MHS. With nursing now recognized as a functional area that drives success in the DHA, Riggs and her team are developing ways to measure and influence how nurses ensure readiness and patient safety. The creation of a tri-service advisory board and tri-service nursing working groups help the team reap the best practices from all three military services.

“No matter what service you're coming from, or what MTF you work at, there's a real emphasis on knowledge growth and development,” Riggs said. “That lifelong learning model within nursing has created a community that has guarded itself from stagnation.”

Army Col. Jenifer Meno supports the development of nurse skills for readiness as the deputy assistant director of strategy, planning, and functional integration at DHA. Meno’s team uses data from products such as patient surveys to demonstrate the quality care nurses are providing. Meno, a nurse herself, was quick to emphasize the data as something beyond numbers.

“Our numbers represent people,” Meno said. “They also represent outcomes we're trying to improve in our Military Health System, like readiness for our service members and care for our own beneficiaries.”

Meno uses data to validate the work nurses do and examines it to allow patient feedback to help shape next steps for improvement. The numbers directly address both sides of readiness for the MHS.

“We hear their voices and their needs so we can make sure we're doing the right thing for our patients and staff,” she said. “Nursing has become that ability to look at problems from how we continue care across both areas and try to align training policies to ensure that we maintain high standards of practice and care delivery.”

The MHS has taken advantage of pre-existing channels like the MHS Nurse Advice Line and telehealth engagement to help guarantee that these standards are met during the COVID-19 pandemic. At DHA headquarters, nurses have continued to leverage their field experience to refine and enhance the solutions developed in response to the outbreak. Nurses on the front lines are also stepping up to ensure quality care.

Army Maj. Alex Tatone, chief of Evans Army Community Hospital’s Department of Inpatient Services at Fort Carson, Colorado, used modeling to predict that the small hospital did not have enough critical-care beds to support the potential influx of COVID-19 patients. As a result, the Baylor University graduate created a bed expansion plan that nearly quadrupled the number of critical-care beds at Evans, and included training nurses that do not normally work in intensive care units to support those beds. Once they complete the short but comprehensive training program, the newly trained nurses are paired with experienced ICU nurses on the floor as guides.

“Our nurses are being asked to do something that we normally wouldn't ask them to do and work a little bit outside of their comfort zone,” Tatone said, “but we wanted to make sure that we provided the training and support in order for them to be able to do that.”

The strategy of expanding staff functions through appropriate training and education has provided facilities the manpower to address a potential surge in patients, and also demonstrated the dynamic nature of nursing in times of critical need. Nursing students at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services graduated early to begin immediate support of their colleagues in the MHS amid the global coronavirus pandemic. A March Defense News article praised the “cadre of competent health care professionals who can augment current resources” and “have matriculated a curriculum that has a specific focus on threats like emerging infectious diseases and disasters.”

From expanding nursing functions inside of MTFs to meeting screening needs in tents outside, all three nursing professionals praised the adaptability of nurses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Riggs is confident that nurses will continue to deliver, from the fast pace of the emergency room to the regular drumbeat of floor nursing. She hopes to leverage the training nurses have received to look at more opportunities in readiness and operability.

“Our MHS nurses, whether civilian, contractor, or military, embody the DoD core values of a real performance culture,” Riggs said. “That requires leadership, professionalism, and dedication to duty. The future right now seems uncertain with our current health care crisis, but I have every confidence that our nurses are up for the challenge.”

You also may be interested in...

Tidewater set to become fifth Military Health System market

Article
4/19/2021
Military health personnel reading a medical machine

The Tidewater Military Health System market in southeast Virginia is scheduled to officially stand up April 19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | MHS Transformation

Appenzeller emphasizes: Get COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where

Article
4/16/2021
Military personnel explaining forensic equipment

The DHA’s Combat Support assistant director had some direct and encouraging words about the military’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to date.

Recommended Content:

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

Tele-critical care will play increased COVID-19 response role in 2021

Article
4/15/2021
Infographic that says "202 tele-critical care successes will help 2021 COVID19 response"

Virtual health and particularly tele-critical care for critically ill patients assumed frontline roles in sustaining care while keeping beneficiaries and health care teams safe.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | MHS Transformation

Join Us!! Third COVID-19 Townhall Update with Major General George Appenzeller!

Article
4/13/2021
MHS and Military OneSource COVID-19 Townhall, with Major General (Dr.) George N. Appenzeller.  Wednesday, 14 April, 1 PM ET

Join us for the MHS' Third COVID-19 Townhall with Major General George Appenzeller

Recommended Content:

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

DOD surpasses 2 million COVID-19 vaccines worldwide

Article
4/9/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The DOD hit the 2 million mark for vaccinations worldwide just a month after the 1 million milestone.

Recommended Content:

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

Public health remains an integral part in the fight against COVID

Article
4/9/2021
Infographic featuring health personnel wearing face shields and mask with "National Public Health Week" across the top of the picture

The pandemic has highlighted a need to provide more advanced training on infection prevention and control.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Toolkit | April Toolkit | Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Children’s well-being contributes immeasurably to force readiness

Article
4/6/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask in the back of a truck

The Defense Health Agency joins in celebrating military children during Month of the Military Child, observed in April, and always.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | April Toolkit | Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Coronavirus | Month of the Military Child | Month of the Military Child Image Library

Telemedicine advances put to the test during pandemic

Article
4/1/2021
Uniformed service member stands behind wall of computer screens

COVID-19 has led to the need for physical distancing and has overwhelmed the capacities of health systems, compelling many to adopt telehealth solutions.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Research and Innovation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DOD healthcare leaders give COVID-19 update, praise DHA personnel

Article
3/30/2021
Picture of Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr. Ronald Place providing a COVID-19 update at  the Pentagon

Dr. Terry Adirim and Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place provide update on COVID-19 vaccination progress and offer thanks to MHS workers for their contributions.

Recommended Content:

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

Lovell FHCC staff steps up to create formidable COVID-19 team

Article
3/30/2021
Military health personnel preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccination effort at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois, has brought out the best in staff.

Recommended Content:

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

Dover Air Force Base features ‘Park ‘N Pickup’ pharmacy

Article
3/26/2021
Picture of prescription sitting on a counter

Due to the increased need for patient safety, the 436th Medical Group pharmacy at Dover Air Force Base has implemented a Park ‘N Pickup process.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety Awareness Week | COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | Patient Safety

DHA Form 207: COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Immunization Document

Form/Template
3/25/2021

The purpose of this form is to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to the patient.

Recommended Content:

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

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

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
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

Policy

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.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Eight nations participate in West African virtual pandemic exercise

Article
3/24/2021
Picture of military personnel wearing a face mask looking at a laptop computer

Medical experts from six African nations, the United Kingdom and the United States, participated in a Virtual Pandemic Preparation and Response Engagement exercise.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | Global Health Engagement | Partners
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 28

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.