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    Global health engagement forges an early success in the overseas fight against COVID-19

    Global health engagement forges an early success in the overseas fight against COVID-19

    Photo By BUMED PAO | Members of the Naval Hospital Rota staff that coordinated the COVID-19 test pose for a...... read more read more



    Story by BUMED PAO 

    U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

    Max Katz
    Senior Consultant, Support to Navy Office of Global Health Engagement

    In early March, when an active duty service member at Naval Hospital (NH) Rota was exhibiting symptoms resembling those of COVID-19, the hospital team jumped into action. Over the course of the next 8 hours, the Navy Medicine team, in lockstep with local national staff and local health officials, were able to secure a test for their fellow service member, transport a sample to a hospital 80 miles away in Seville for testing, and receive the results the next morning.

    Commander David Paz, Chief Medical Officer at NH Rota, called this “a total team effort focused on providing world-class care” regardless of the situation.

    Lieutenant Commander Bridget Ruiz, Laboratory Department Head at NH Rota, had already identified that the hospital did not have an immediate in-house testing capability for the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Spain, at the time, was already in the early stages of local viral spread during this pandemic. LCDR Ruiz worked with LCDR Brett Salazar, the Utilization Management Department Head, to identify solutions and coordinate with host nation partners to create a viable COVID-19 testing pipeline.
    It is at this junction in the hospital’s response where the power of global health engagement (GHE) began to shine through.

    Working with Ms. Maria Liaño, a Spanish national that works in referrals management at NH Rota, they were able to get in immediate contact with a local hospital, Hospital Jerez Puerta del Sur. They forwarded the urgent request on to Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocio, which was the only hospital in the area assigned to process COVID testing at the time.

    Further complicating the hospital’s response was the difference in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) requirements for those presenting COVID-19 symptoms, which those at NH Rota were adhering to, and the Spanish Ministry of Health’s guidelines for testing. This disparity became an additional challenge for the team because Spanish health authorities did not want to test people with symptoms that didn’t meet their minimum threshold and, in this case, the service member only met the CDC’s threshold. Critically important, LCDR Solis, the Navy Station Rota Public Health Emergency Officer, and Ms. Liaño were able to liaise with the local health authorities and bridged this gap, allowing for the patient to be tested.

    Once the sample was taken, the team faced another issue: expeditiously transporting it over 90 minutes away to Saville in a secure, biosafety container. Recognizing this need, Hospital Corpsman First Class Eliazar Flores, a member of the Laboratory Department, and Ms. Liaño connected with, Hospital Jerez Puerta del Sur, which was in NH Rota’s Preferred Provider Network (PPN). The hospital was able to provide an appropriate container, complete with kit and instructions from their providers, for the sample. HM1 Flores’ efforts to translate and effectively communicate between the Spanish doctors and the NH Rota team expedited this process. Of note and demonstrating the support from the host nation, the Lab Director Ms. Manuela Roman, from Hospital Jerez Puerta del Sur, personally accompanied LCDR Ruiz and HM1 Flores to ensure a smooth drop-off of the lab sample in Seville.

    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, LCDR Salazar’s department collaborated and coordinated with Spanish and Navy providers by working together to share best practices and the latest medical techniques with each other. This included conducting bilingual grand rounds with the Public Health authorities at the beginning of the pandemic as well as hosting social events to foster a smooth working relationship. Such activities encourage camaraderie while helping bridge cultural and language barriers. These events paved the way for the seamless response to a symptomatic service member getting the testing they needed.

    Once the sample was delivered to Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocio in Seville, the team came back to Naval Hospital Rota to await the results of the test. They received the results the next morning, a feat that only hours ago seemed impossible.

    Paramount to the success of a U.S. Service member receiving needed care are the diplomatic skills acquired by working collaboratively with local partners, like Ms. Liaño, to tackle novel issues. Without Ms. Liaño’s efforts, it would have been much more difficult to complete the mission. This single example of a strong partnership with our Spanish allies at NH Rota is the culmination of years of relationship building that can be critical to ensure world class healthcare can be delivered anytime and anywhere.



    Date Taken: 06.08.2020
    Date Posted: 06.08.2020 12:40
    Story ID: 371668
    Location: US

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