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CRDAMC’s Emergency Operations Center key to success in the COVID-19 pandemic

By (Courtesy article)

FORT HOOD, Texas -- The Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s Emergency Operations Center was established in March 2020 by Col. Richard Malish, CRDAMC commander, in response to the growing needs from the COVID-19 pandemic. The EOC has been in operation every day since overseeing multiple, and sometimes complex, activities to help ensure timely, quality and safe care for Fort Hood’s Soldiers and beneficiaries.

“Composed of Active Duty and civilian leaders, healthcare administrators, senior nurses, logisticians, operations experts, analysts and other experts, the EOC has been the center of gravity in CRDAMC’s efforts to minimize the impact of pandemic. Its goals are to ensure organized delivery of public health messaging, screening, COVID-19 testing, hospital infection control policy, COVID-19 treatment and most recently, COVID-19 vaccination,” Malish said.

“One of the most important roles of the EOC is to make a complicated picture simple. Doing so ensures that leaders can make good decisions,” Brittany Jaccaud, the EOC’s lead analyst, stated. “The EOC’s products include detailed epidemiologic curves which incorporate predictive analytics – helping leaders to anticipate future needs and react before crises arrive.”

The EOC generates combat readiness by coordinating COVID-19 testing of units preparing to deploy.

The EOC’s daily meetings have produced visitation policies, the hospital’s expansion plan, updates on the medical prevention and treatment of COVID-19 patients, the procurement of personal protective equipment and the acquisition of COVID-19 disinfection equipment.

Patients engage with the products of the EOC through many avenues. The EOC posts public health messages on social media and in addition, manages the screeners at all doors. The hospital’s 24 hour COVID-19 hotline is manned by Army Public Health Nurses overseen by the EOC. The EOC also manages all  testing conducted at CRDAMC’s no-appointment-required, four-lane respiratory drive through.

Regional hospitals also benefit. The EOC collects information from local civilian hospitals to provide an overlay of the network’s COVID-19 demand, beds available and personal protective equipment shortfalls. This dashboard has given regional healthcare leaders situational awareness about network shortfalls – enabling mutual support.

Lt. Col. Sean Allen is a career Medical Service Corps Officer with experience in operations, logistics and finance. He has led the EOC since day one.

“It has been an honor to lead this extremely talented team and to take care of the Soldiers, our staff and beneficiaries during this pandemic,” Allen said.

Due to the success of the EOC’s operations, Malish was one of four hospital commanders invited to describe his hospital’s COVID-19 response at the 2020 Association of the United State Army Conference in October.

Furthermore, CRDAMC was selected as a pilot site to dispense the COVID-19 vaccine.

This latest effort continues the tradition of excellence for which the CRDAMC EOC is now known according to Malish.   “The hospital quickly and efficiently  dispensed its initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel using a process that was organized and conscious of social distancing,” Malish said. CRDAMC has forwarded its lessons learned and practices to U.S. Army Medical Command for other hospitals to consider in their distribution plans.

Malish attributes this success to the EOC and its ability to communicate.
“The EOC does many things well…but its agility is what makes it special.” Malish said. “The EOC communicates with patients, partners and higher headquarters in near-real-time. Its leaders are proactive in attitude. We are not always perfect, but when crises arise, the EOC reacts with decisiveness. It is teams like this who make CRDAMC and Fort Hood special.”

“I am proud of the EOC’s work,” Malish said. In 2021, the team expects to test many beneficiaries for COVID, to manage more patients who need hospitalization and to expand its vaccination mission. “Fort Hood’s community can rest assured that they will get quality, safe care at CRDAMC, thanks to the EOC.”
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