By Mr. Douglas Holl (USAPHC)August 8, 2019
The Army Public Health Center hosted its fourth annual Public Health/Preventive Medicine Course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from July 27 to Aug. 2 with more than 500 attendees representing Department of Defense civilian and Army public health officer and enlisted specialties.
The course continues to grow every year and is managed by APHC, which also provides many of the expert presenters and speakers. The purpose of the course is to provide the most current public health information topics and improve core competencies for public health efforts across all of the DOD.
This year's course featured more than 200 presentations and offered 56 hours of training through 17 workshops and 13 break-out sessions based on the attendees' different areas of concentration, including nuclear medicine, toxicology, entomology, nursing, preventative medicine, animal health, health physics and others. Attendees received up to 56 hours of continuing education units and an opportunity to obtain health certifications as Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) or Certified Public Health practitioners (CPH).
The course plenary session, held July 30, focused on the course theme of readiness, relevance and vigor and meeting 21st century public health challenges. Guest speakers like Rear. Adm. Edward M. Dieser, chief engineer officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, highlighted the important partnership between the Public Health Service and DOD in responding to health crises like the Liberian Ebola outbreak of 2015.
"We're more integrated throughout the government than any other service, but we want DOD to leverage us," said Dieser. "We need to be a capability multiplier for you."
Dieser explained the Public Health Service can provide direct healthcare, public health leadership and scientific expertise, but rely on their partnerships with DOD for their resources and additional expertise.
Dr. Boris Lushniak, University of Maryland School of Public Health dean and professor, gave an enthusiastic and entertaining lecture on public health response during infectious disease disasters. As a former Public Health Service officer, he also praised the virtues of working with DOD.
"The common bond for public health professionals is we do good," said Lushniak. "The Army and Air Force worked with the Public Health Service to provide hope to health care workers in Liberia during the Ebola response and reinforced my belief that we have to work together."
Brig. Gen. Carl Reese, the assistant surgeon general for mobilization and readiness and National Guard affairs, Office of the Surgeon General, also focused on the importance of training and readiness for Army Guard and Reserve public health Soldiers.
"We are a lean force and although the delivery of healthcare is on DHA, we need to use their platform to get the training we need," said Reese. "We need to maintain our competencies to be ready at a moment's notice."
A couple of plenary speakers also focused on the transition under way as Army military treatment facilities move to fall under the administrative control of the Defense Health Agency as directed by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 and NDAA 2019.
Army Col. Mark Ireland, deputy assistant director, public health, Defense Health Agency, said the transition is an opportunity to improve health, healthcare and readiness while lowering costs.
"This isn't just a reorganization of Army medicine, but the Army as well," said Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland, deputy commanding general for operations at the U.S. Army Medical Command. "As leaders, if we are not enabling our folks and establishing and resourcing priorities, then we are not doing are job. Now we can recreate ourselves to focus on lethality and readiness, bringing capabilities to make our nation the best we can be on the battlefield."
For more information, visit Army Public Health Center at http://phc.amedd.army.mil
The Army Public Health Center enhances Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and assuring the quality and effectiveness of the Army's Public Health Enterprise.