Dental personnel provided needed support during COVID-19 pandemic

By Sharon Ayala, RHC-P Directorate of CommunicationsJune 30, 2020

In support of COVID-19 response efforts, Spc. Calin Allen, Dental Health Activity-Alaska, was responsible for screening all personnel before they entered Bassett Army Community Hospital, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. (Photo Credit: Bassett Army Community Hospital) VIEW ORIGINAL

TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii - For several months during the COVID-19 pandemic, military and civilian dental personnel from across Regional Health Command-Pacific’s footprint provided vital support in executing the region’s pandemic response efforts.

“Dental Health Command-Pacific took swift action to transition the organization from one that primarily supports dental readiness throughout the Pacific, to one that directly supports local military treatment facilities,” said Maj. Katherine Little, DHC-P’s executive officer.

Located on the Tripler Army Medical Center campus in Hawaii, DHC-P oversees five U.S. Army Dental Activities located in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Washington State, which also includes 24 dental treatment facilities.

At the onset of the pandemic, each dental activity provided personnel to augment their local military treatment facility and assist with everything from monitoring entry control points, contact tracing, test result notification, and call center support, just to name a few.

The additional manpower allowed the MTFs to maximize the use of their assigned medics, nurses, and other healthcare personnel by placing them where they were needed the most in the fight against COVID-19.

“This team approach ultimately enabled DHC-P to sustain dental emergency operations while leveraging capabilities to support our sister units,” Little said.

In addition to providing needed support to the MTFs, dental personnel from Dental Health Activity-Hawaii activated COVID-19 Dental Emergency Response teams and a treatment platform for Hawaii’s tri-service Military Health System beneficiaries.

According to Little, “This effort helped to minimize the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining access to care.”

DHC-P has a workforce of nearly 700 military and civilian personnel and provides theater-level dental health care to more than 74,000 beneficiaries across the RHC-P.