The rapid emergence and spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is presenting challenges to medical clinicians not previously encountered in our lifetime. As the US Navy hospital ships are preparing to launch (USNS Comfort and Mercy) and governors are calling for military field hospitals to be used, there are several unanswered questions to be considered, such as who will staff these military installations, who will direct them, and what services will they provide. Many military medical clinicians are currently deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, as well as other areas of the world, and are unlikely to be called back anytime soon. Others will be needed to keep the 54 military treatment facilities (MTFs) open to care for the 9.4 million military beneficiaries and their families. Additionally, as key members of the health care community, military medical personnel will be needed to treat patients with COVID-19 who are seen at MTFs. In 2007, we described the unique partnership developed between the US Department of Defense and several civilian professional surgical societies to assist in the care of combat casualties alongside military medical personnel at the US Army Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.1 It is now time to consider a similar such program in the US for this and future national emergencies.
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Corresponding Author: M. Margaret Knudson, MD, Department of Surgery, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco, 1001 Potrero Ave, Ward 3A, San Francisco, CA 94110 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: April 6, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2020.1227
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
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