Teamwork during COVID-19: McDonald Army Health Center provides support to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth

By Andrew BrownApril 27, 2020

FORT EUSTIS, Va. – 27 Medical personnel assigned to McDonald Army Health Center at Fort Eustis are poised to provide medical support to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Re-distribution of NMCP personnel to serve on the USNS Comfort in support of New York City has impacted services at the Military Treatment Facility (MTF).  Lt. Col. Jason Faulkenberry, Commander of McDonald Army Health Center and his leadership team responded by sending personnel to support.  McDonald Army Health Center (MCACH) military and civilian personnel will provide medical support services to patients, service members, and Department of Defense (DoD) Civilians.

“We pre-positioned our team where they would be most impactful in treating patients and curtailing the virus.” said Faulkenberry.

The first wave consisted of 25 soldiers and two civilians encompassing 11 different specialties, including Medical Maintenance Technicians, Operating Room Technicians, Medical Supply Specialists, Laboratory Technicians, Radiology Technicians, Paramedics, Combat Medics, Pharmacists, Physicians, and Nurses requested by NMCP to supplement their shortage of personnel.

Coordinating aspects of support for the Army element is Lt. Col. Brad Cunningham, an Optometrist at MCAHC serving as the medical support liaison. He plays an important role in coordinating the logistics of moving personnel to ensure the fit is right in meeting the mission of providing medical support to NMCP.

“I coordinate the expedited transfer of all available Soldiers and Civilians to NMCP during this mission. I am building a network of Navy key personnel that are instrumental in credentialing, orienting, on-boarding, to allow support personnel to work in their respective specialty. There are many similarities between Army, Navy, and Air Force health care services, but there remain different processes that each service follows. I am working through these differences to ensure our personnel is utilized appropriately and timely.” said Cunningham.

Individual specialty orientation and training will occur with Soldiers and civilians while at their new assignment to support the medical center.

”Army medical personnel from MCAHC are trained and ready to support Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. In addition to personnel, MCAHC provided essential equipment to support the fight against COVID-19.  The MCAHC team is doing a phenomenal job of shifting personnel to meet the mission requirements while at the same time providing essential training and support to our healthcare partners (NMCP) in the Tidewater Military Health System,” said Cunningham.

Answering the call to duty as the battle against this invisible enemy called COVID-19 rages on and highlighting selfless service our healthcare professionals are providing, and have answered that call.

“I am humbled and honored to be a part of this operation. Although I'm thankful for this opportunity to serve, more importantly, I couldn't be more impressed by our Soldiers and Civilians that have not only answered this call to duty but remain the highly motivated and trained medical professionals that they are Hooah!” said Cunningham

Training for COVID-19
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Intensive Care Unit Certified Nurse Specialist instructor LCDR Elaine Medley (r) assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth instructs Major Joanna Bailey and 1st Lieutenant Kristin Salcedo assigned to McDonald Army Health Center in simulated training on how to administer respiratory care to a COVID-19 positive patient with increasing respiratory distress in preparation to support the medical center during the USS Comfort’s deployment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo Credit: Lt. Col. Brad Cunningham) VIEW ORIGINAL
Logistics during COVID-19
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Navy Logistics Specialist Third Class Alexis Hemker trains Specialist Julie Hale assigned to McDonald Army Health Center on customer retrieving processes practiced at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s Medical Supply and Logistics Department. (Photo Credit: Lt. Col. Brad Cunningham) VIEW ORIGINAL