Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Military Health System experts discuss COVID-19 innovations

Four men wearing masks, holding COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber Raul Martinez, Robert Serrano, Tim Ahlstrom, and Kevin Waller, maintenance workers with Fort Bliss Directorate of Plans Training Mobilization and Security, volunteered to construct 40 COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chambers (CAMICs) for William Beaumont Army Medical Center, in the hopes that it will help save a patient who may have the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. CAMICs have already been used in over 100 surgical procedures within the MHS. (Photo by Amabilia Payen, William Beaumont Army Medical Center)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Rapid innovation serves as a cornerstone of the Military Health System, allowing for advances that improve the health and safety of service members and beneficiaries, according to Dr. Paul Cordts, chief medical officer at the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia. Cordts and three other medical experts discussed the medical innovations resulting from the COVID-19 national emergency at a health innovation virtual roundtable Monday, July 27.

Necessity is often the mother of invention, which was the case with development of the COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber, or CAMIC. 

“With reports of COVID-19 wreaking havoc in New York City in mid-March and the looming shortage of PPE and so many unknowns at that time, we were really looking for additional ways to protect health care workers, especially during surgical and clinical procedures,” said Army Maj. (Dr.) Steven Hong, assistant professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and chief of head and neck surgical oncology and reconstructive surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Three surgeons in hospital room wearing masks
Lt. Col. Eric Weber (far right), chief medical officer, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and his colleagues demonstrate how to effectively use the COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber (CAMIC), a device that serves as a barrier protecting healthcare workers from aerosolized droplets by capturing and removing viral particles emitted from the patient, May 19, at WBAMC’s surgical room. (Photo by Amabilia Payen, William Beaumont Army Medical Center)

After putting in a collective 2,000 hours, Hong and his colleagues at WRNMMC and other agencies within the Department of Defense developed a barrier device constructed by draping a large clear plastic bag over a box-like frame made from PVC piping. The CAMIC, when placed over the head, neck, and shoulders of the patient during surgery, protects staff from airborne particles. The invention received emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in May and has already been used in over 100 medical procedures within the MHS. 

The current COVID-19 crisis also provided an opportunity for the MHS to leverage both new and existing digital technologies, said Dr. Simon Pincus, director, Connected Health Branch, Defense Health Agency in Tacoma, Washington. In response to the demand for information in a quickly changing clinical environment when treating viral diseases, researchers at the Connected Health Branch created the Antimicrobial Stewardship application to provide up-to-date guidelines for infectious diseases, including COVID-19. 

They also curated a resource toolkit to prevent burnout among health care staff as a result of compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress from caring for patients. The Provider Resilience mobile app addresses an issue often seen in war among health care providers, but is also now appearing in the war against COVID-19. 

“When you’re in combat, you’re not going home from the trauma that you see, you’re actually potentially at risk in being a victim of trauma,” Pincus said. “This is kind of similar to COVID-19 where the providers are on the front lines and the health care teams taking care of patients are also at risk with the same outcome … so one of the innovations we pivoted was a provider resilience suite of self-care.”

More than its innovations, however, the MHS itself is pioneering because of its uniqueness to any other system in the world, said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Todd Rasmussen, professor of surgery, associate dean of research, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. 

“In broad strokes, because we are a global health system, we have providers and labs and beneficiaries around the world,” he said, noting the unique ability of the system to partner with civilian medicine and other elements of the government and private industry. 

A substantial research investment within the DoD to steward funds toward requirements also sets the MHS apart. “Medical appropriation that comes to the Department of Defense is applied to the health, readiness, recovery, and care of mostly the war fighters but [also] all of our beneficiaries,” he explained. “If we say the requirement of 2020 is COVID-19, the DoD is able to pretty naturally then shift the focus of that requirements-driven medical research into the pandemic and pandemic-related topics, just like it did in the early 2000s when the priorities, or the requirements, were for hemorrhage control and resuscitation, limb salvage and such,” he added.

During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Joint Trauma System and its trauma registry allowed for the sharing of real-time data that led to innovations in blood transfusion and life-saving techniques. The trauma registry informed the build of the COVID-19 registry, providing real-time data to evaluate and adjust clinical practice, therapies, and other guidelines, explained Cordts.

“We went to the JTS because they had a registry that allowed us to gather real-world data; they have a global network of performance improvement and care improvement where we discuss … the care of—and how best to diagnose and treat—patients with COVID-19,” added Rasmussen. 

The implementation of the DoD’s new electronic health record MHS GENESIS has also helped clinicians adjust workflow and adapt in triaging in-person clinic visits with virtual visits during the pandemic, said Cordts. 

“We're taking a very careful look at virtual health, the safety and efficacy of virtual health, and trying to learn what we can about where virtual health appears to be most beneficial for our patients in terms of improving their access, but also on improving the quality and safety of the care they receive virtually,” Corts added.

You also may be interested in...

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
1/18/2022
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

This is my Why

Article Around MHS
12/30/2021
Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

So others may breathe - Navy Medicine Respiratory Therapist cares for COVID casualties

Article Around MHS
12/13/2021
Military Health personnel posing for a picture

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tessa Hazard, a respiratory therapist, recently deployed to Alabama as a member of a COVID-19 response team.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

Retired colonel leads Fort Irwin COVID response mission

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
Army Col. Richard Hopkins, the COVID-19 response coordinator with Weed Army Community Hospital, collects paperwork from a Soldier who received the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event.

Retired Army Col. Richard Hopkins volunteered under the Army’s COVID-19 Retiree Recall Program to return to service as the COVID-19 response coordinator for Weed Army Community Hospital and Fort Irwin, California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

ARNORTH military support to FEMA begins in Tennessee, continues in five states

Article Around MHS
9/24/2021
Prepared COVID-19 vaccine shots wait to be administered to an Airman. Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing were eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines during Unit Training Assembly here May 2nd, 2021.

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approximately 20 military medical personnel deployed to Tennessee to support civilian healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in local hospitals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 can lead to long-term health concerns

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Debra Lamb, a 30-year civil service veteran at Ft. Carson, contracted the COVID-19 virus late in 2020 and experienced a harrowing ordeal before partially recovering months later.

Debra Lamb, a 30-year civil service veteran at Ft. Carson, contracted the COVID-19 virus late in 2020 and experienced a harrowing ordeal before partially recovering months later.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

6th Medical Group Delivers Mandatory Vaccines

Article Around MHS
9/21/2021
An Airman from the 6th Medical Group prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Airmen from the 6th Medical Group began redistributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, on Sept. 9, 2021. This comes after the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on Aug. 23, 2021, mandating all active duty personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

After the ventilator COVID survivor advocates for vaccine

Article Around MHS
9/15/2021
Tim Harris is sedated while on a ventilator

Tim Harris, a mobilization and planning specialist, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, is sedated while on a ventilator at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, June 27, 2020.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army Medicine Europe Provides Additional COVID Vaccinations for Immune Compromised

Article Around MHS
9/13/2021
Franz Dietrich, a German local national assigned to Training Support Activity Europe, receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the 7th Army Training Command's (7ATC) Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany, May 4, 2021. The U.S. Army Health Clinics at Grafenwoehr and Vilseck conducted a "One Community" COVID-19 vaccine drive May 3-7 to provide thousands of appointments to the 7ATC community of Soldiers, spouses, Department of the Army civilians, veterans and local nationals employed by the U.S. Army. (U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

Army medical treatment facilities in Europe are now offering an additional dose of COVID vaccine for immune compromised beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
Showing results 1 - 14 Page 1 of 1

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.