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    I Am Navy Medicine, helping stop the spread of COVID-19, Lt. Aaron Chambers, Navy Medical Service Corps

    I Am Navy Medicine, helping stop the spread of COVID-19, Lt. Aaron Chambers, Navy Medical Service Corps

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | On the front lines to stop the spread of COVID-19… Lt. Aaron Chambers, Navy Medical...... read more read more

    BREMERTON , WA, UNITED STATES

    04.30.2020

    Story by Douglas Stutz 

    Naval Hospital Bremerton

    “I am Lt. Aaron Chambers DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) FACFAS (Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons), helping stop the spread of COVID-19.”

    Chambers, originally from St. Louis, Mo. Mehlville Senior High 2006 graduate, and University of Missouri 2009 alumnus, relocated to Los Angeles, California to complete his undergraduate degree in 2014 from Western University of Health Sciences.

    For the last six years, Chambers has been part of Navy Medicine as an active-duty podiatrist and is currently assigned at Naval Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton.

    Along with still providing specialty service to keep Sailors, Marines and their families, past and present, ready, healthy and on the job, Chambers has also been actively engaged in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    “The great part of Navy Medicine is that everyone understands that we have a common mission and a dedication to our patients and service members. This has resulted in a high level of coordination and frequent updates to our screening process. I am currently performing Level-1 screenings for all patients at the hospital, and if I see an area for improvement I’m able to immediately address it to improve the mission,” said Chambers, noting that the Level 1 screening involves triaging high-risk patients coming to the hospital, screening for COVID-19 symptoms, and directing patients to the appropriate level of care.

    “If a patient is identified as high risk in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria, they are sent for prompt testing. If an OB patient in labor is identified, I activate our OB-response team, enabling prompt care for the child and mother. Even if patients are coming for routine appointments or pharmacy refills, they must be screened for respiratory illness. Our drive through screening process accommodates over 300 patients a day,” added Chambers.

    It has been a challenge during what’s been labeled as the new norm, as Chambers and the rest of NMRTC Bremerton focus daily on preparing, responding and preventing COVID-19 at shore, on ships, in submarines, and with squadrons.

    “Knowing that things need to be fluid in terms of management can be a challenge in this time, but trusting in our team to provide the best quality of care helps significantly,” said Chambers. “This is an unprecedented time but our military really shines in management of acute events. Additionally being part of a smaller command allows me to know personally those that are at the top levels of leadership. When a new protocol gets established I know it’s coming from someone personally invested in its success. I’d trust them to treat my family and I trust them in their abilities.”

    Chambers attests that patient response has been overwhelmingly positive as the Navy Medicine military treatment facility works to protect its people, maintain military readiness, and support the whole-of-government interagency response.

    “Patients frequently comment to me that they are thankful that our team at NHB/NMRTC Bremerton is making sure our community is safe. Knowing that we are addressing their concerns and that the wider Bremerton area is safer because of it is very gratifying,” said Chambers.

    Preventing a pandemic might seem like a another branch of medicine far removed from orthopedics, but Chambers and his department have immediately responded to help handle the outbreak, along with still providing acute patient needs.

    “Our Orthopedic department team demonstrates the best part of being in the Navy – the ability to rapidly respond to any challenge that faces us,” stated Chambers. “Within a day of the COVID-19 response we had changed our clinic schedule to having covering providers while the rest of us were dedicated to screening and testing. We switched immediately to phone meetings for updates to decrease the risk of transmission.”

    Chambers’ Navy career was really not the result of any early planning, relying more on happenstance and the willingness to make the best of what seemed like a good opportunity.

    “During my last year of my DPM program I was on clinical rotations at a residency program in San Francisco. Two of the graduating residents were part of the Navy Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP) and they were extremely inspiring to be around. They had high energy, confidence and leadership skills that I strived to have. They viewed the Navy not as a means to an end, but as a chance to grow in personal and professional leadership abilities. We became good friends and they helped me during my application process to the Navy HSCP program. Once I began residency at the VA Loma Linda Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., I began my career with the Navy,” recalled Chambers.

    “The Navy not only allows for one to grow professionally, but take part of leadership abilities I would otherwise not have the opportunity for,” continued Chambers. “I have served as division officer for the department of Orthopedics, leading the enlisted hospital corpsmen to advance in rank and ability and as well as the command duty officer, performing crises management like inclement weather responses and personnel issues.”

    Chambers has also served as project manager for a number of hospital-wide process improvement projects, such as designing and implementing a ‘surgical passport’ system for both orthopedics and podiatry.

    “It is a clear, concise method to help patients obtain pre-operative labs and clearances, obtain necessary pre-operative imaging as well as ensure follow-up for their post-operative appointments and care,” described Chambers.

    Although the majority of his six years has been providing patient-centered care at stateside military treatment facilities, Chambers has supported Navy fleet needs during local sea operations.

    “One exciting assignment I had was coordinating an educational clinic for shipboard physical therapists stationed on our carriers. I conducted a multi-day hands-on workshop to teach the physical therapists how to perform safe injections and therapeutic modalities for their underway patients. It gave me the chance to see how life is aboard a massive carrier as well as improve the treatment abilities of their medical team,” said Chambers, noticing the difference in podiatry needs on a Navy warship at sea compared to at a shore-based location.

    “Due to the demanding shipboard environment, we see more sports-related injuries than our civilian counterparts. Frequently, I am performing ankle arthroscopies and ankle ligament repairs due to the repetitive stress and trauma on a ship. Additionally, I see a frequent level of foot traumas such as Jones fractures or Lisfranc injuries that necessitate surgery to get patients back to full duty as soon as possible. But compared to the civilian sector, I am not seeing as much diabetes related complications as I would in the civilian sector,” Chambers said.

    As a Navy Medical Service Corps officer, Chambers is part of an highly regarded group considered by many to be the most diverse organization in Navy Medicine.

    “The biggest thing to remember about the Medical Service Corps is that while we may have very specific professions, we are all in the mission to provide exceptional care to our patients. As an example, I focus on the foot and ankle for my profession, but if a patient is experiencing issues with other areas I am the first to advocate and ensure they get prompt care. I have had patients that have had urgent psychological issues, emergent OB conditions and others, and I am always ensuring they get prompt care and a warm handoff to the specialist who can help them the best. During the COVID-19 pandemic I’ve been working with other MSC officers, Dental and Medical Corps officers and we are all focused on the same goal. Frequently I am screening patients side by side with optometrists and physical therapists and performing duties that would ordinarily be outside of my scope,” Chambers said.

    Chambers asserts that the best part about his career in Navy Medicine is the support as well as the opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

    “Navy medicine and the military has made me a more disciplined person and really challenged me on what I can accomplish. My family and I have definitely seen a positive change in my confidence, stress management and public speaking abilities. My patient care abilities have definitely expanded as well with having access to experienced, trained mentors to rely on for advice,” said Chambers.

    “Being part of Navy Medicine means that I can serve my country and at the same time improving care for my service-members,” added Chambers. “Nothing compares to the feeling of putting on my uniform and going to work knowing I am making a positive difference in patient’s lives.”

    With the Navy surgeon general priority on operational readiness and core mission of producing force medical readiness and medical force readiness, Chambers notes that if anything, the COVID-19 outbreak has shown Navy Medicine’s commitment to helping those in need.

    “The results speak for themselves I believe. During this time of crisis we are still functioning as a high-reliability organization. Our Sailors are still getting the care they need and if an external need for deployment arises we are ready to serve,” said Chambers.

    When asked to could sum up his experience with Navy Medicine in one sentence, Chambers replied, “The best decision I have ever made in my life.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.30.2020
    Date Posted: 04.30.2020 18:00
    Story ID: 368952
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

    Web Views: 322
    Downloads: 1
    Podcast Hits: 0

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