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    by Published on 07-20-2017 04:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Readiness

    Perhaps the time of accountability is here at last for officers who, by choice, ignored the gradual shift toward readiness standards and fitness. Hopefully the men and women of the Public Health Service will finally look as if they belong in the Public Health Service. I can clearly recall being in Atlanta during one of the USPHS Symposiums, when the call for height/weight standards was supposedly imminent, and officers were under the distinct impression that they would be referred to a board if they didn't meet the standard. Then, the S.G.'s office changed hands, the idea vaporized, and officers resumed eating as much as they wanted to eat without worry. I recall a clearly wincing VADM Richard Carmona, knees blown out from multiple hard landings in the Army, running/jogging and then walking his way through the Surgeon General's Run-Walk, showing by example that you get out there and you exercise and if he could do it anyone could. That was easily 13 years ago. Fast forward to VADM Regina Benjamin, who clearly did not serve the Corps as an example of the fitness and weight control she endorsed as Surgeon General, but the message was the same; Officer: get fit and lose weight. Fast forward again, to VADM Boris Lushniak setting the example, giving out fitness awards and hosting the APFT at the annual symposium, showing by example what officers must do. If you still didn't get the message, and you still rationalized why it's OK to be obese in uniform, and you were still fudging your fitness goals year after year with the President's Challenge, you knew you still had plenty of time to shed the pounds, get fit, and pass the minimum standard of the APFT when you couldn't rely on the President's Challenge one more year. And yet, after all, you still stayed overweight, because the APFT was so lax that anybody who was willing to do you a favor would allow you to pass and stay "ready" for promotion purposes.

    Officers are understandably concerned about the new weight and body fat percentage standard, if not already retirement eligible. I suspect many obese officers will simply retire rather than lose the necessary pounds. However, your weight can be managed. Your first job is to eat less, cut out carbs, increase proteins and vegetables. Next, increase your heart rate, sweat and do cardio exercise. Next, adopt those simple things as your new lifestyle. Drink water, tea, and get rid of alcohol except on occasion, such as weekends. Next, turn fat into muscle to maintain your fat burning long after you stop exercise. It's just that simple. Or, you could just give up and hope that this new weight standard dissolves into thin air as it has before. Even if it doesn't, there's a chance it will be watered down and you'll never be held accountable. It's a strategy that's worked for more than a decade, while the rest of us got the message, lost the weight, or got even more fit than before.
    Published on 04-13-2017 07:26 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Fellow Officers,

    It gives me great pleasure to announce a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to improve the health and well-being of our Nation’s veterans.

    For more than a decade, there has been interest in developing a partnership between the VA and the Commissioned Corps. I have received many inquiries from officers around the country who have expressed their desire to see such a collaboration implemented. In response to these inquiries and after a careful assessment of the risk and benefits, we began formal discussions with the VA about a year ago regarding establishing a partnership. I am pleased to announce that the agreement has now been finalized.

    Under the Memorandum of Agreement with the VA, Commissioned Corps officers will be able to provide direct patient care to veterans in VA hospitals and clinics in underserved communities. These opportunities will not only serve our veterans, but will also allow our officers to augment professional competencies and enhance clinical skills.

    The initial agreement is a five year commitment with the potential to be extended. There will be a limited number of officers selected initially with preference given to new recruits. Additionally, steps will be taken to ensure that this collaboration does not compromise our ability to fill essential clinical roles with our agency partners, particularly with the Indian Health Service.

    In the weeks that follow, more information about opportunities for a VA assignment will be forthcoming.

    As Commissioned Corps officers, we have taken an oath to protect the nation’s health. I can’t imagine a group more capable of tending to the health and well-being of America’s veterans than all of you. I know I speak for every officer in the Commissioned Corps when I say that it will be an honor to serve those who have served us.

    Thank you for your continued service and dedication to the Commissioned Corps and to the health of our country.

    With Corps pride,

    Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA
    Surgeon General
    by Published on 06-10-2015 08:52 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    The Office of the Surgeon General must address the practice of added sugar and added sodium to the U.S. diet. Obesity and heart disease is not a consequence of the lack of exercise. Generally, you cannot move yourself at a sufficient pace to compensate for the added sugar in the diet. It's a simple and undeniable fact that exercise alone won't compensate for the damaging effects of sugar and salt. You cannot avoid the added sodium in the U.S. diet to easily avoid heart disease. Added sugar and salt is similar to second hand smoke - the source must be controlled. Despite the rhetoric, the average person in the U.S. cannot, without being assisted by a regulatory burden placed on the purveyors of high calorie, high sodium foods, lose weight, and avoid hypertension and diabetes.

    The idea that an overweight person in the U.S. is somehow solely to blame for weight gain is a myth. Every oversize meal, every sodium enriched processed food or restaurant food, every factory food, every oversized drink, is packed with enough hidden calories and salt to place the average citizen on a path to obesity and heart disease in a slow but steady path of addiction to sugar and salt. Dietary obesity and diabetes is practically a certainty unless the lucky few receive an intervention; and this trend is spreading all over the developed world.

    Who is responsible for intervention? The U.S. Surgeon General.

    The few of us who avoid obesity may not easily avoid diabetes and heart disease. The human body has the capacity to, with effort, counter some effects of dietary poison. However, the vast majority of persons cannot eat the diet (the expensive diet) and maintain an exercise level, that achieves both fitness and health. Something must be done, at the Surgeon General's level, to inform the public and drive the sellers of food to bring healthy alternatives into the homes of those other than the affluent, from whatever source of food they have available. It's time to take on the food industry as a whole, for its practice of loading our foods and drinks with salt and sugar to the point that a public health crisis is at hand.
    Published on 05-19-2015 05:10 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the law that ended smoking on domestic U.S. airline flights. But indoor smoking still occurs inside many U.S. airports, including the world's busiest passenger airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield‐Jackson International, which daily averages 250,000 passengers. "Smoking inside airports exposes millions of passengers to the well‐documented hazard of secondhand smoke," said Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Executive Director Cynthia Hallett." The diseases and death caused by exposure to tobacco smoke remain as real today as ever."

    The U.S. Surgeon General in 2006 concluded there is no risk‐free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and the only effective protection is to completely eliminate indoor smoking. But still today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports secondhand smoke exposure annually results in more than 30,000 heart disease deaths and more than 7,000 lung disease deaths in non‐smoking individuals. In increasing numbers of studies reported throughout the world, short‐term exposure to cigarette smoke is associated with heart attacks.

    "No ventilation system in an airport, or bar or casino protects travelers or workers and patrons from the health hazards from secondhand smoke exposure," Hallett said. The American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air‐conditioning Engineers, the standard‐setting body for indoor ventilation, has found that ventilation and other air filtration technologies cannot eliminate health risks from secondhand smoke exposure. Reprinted from: Smokefree-Skies-But-Smoke-Lingering-in-Airports

    Published on 04-23-2015 04:17 PM

    04-23-2015 03:43 AM

    Indian-American Vivek Murthy takes oath 'on the Gita' as US Surgeon General
    Hindustan Times

    37-year-old Indian-American Vivek Murthy was sworn-in as the US Surgeon General by Vice President Joe Biden at a ceremony here today, becoming the youngest-ever in-charge of the country's public health

    Link to the story...
    Published on 03-14-2015 07:42 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona, a combat decorated and disabled Army Special Forces veteran of the Vietnam War was named by Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald to the committee that would meet “multiple times per year” and also conduct periodic reviews to ensure the goals of MyVA, the department’s ambitious reorganization and improvements plan.

    “The committee will provide advice on competing short-term and long-range plans, priorities and strategies to improve the operational functions, services, processes and outputs of the Department,” McDonald said. Additionally, it will advise on the funding necessary to achieve the goals and review the implementation of recommended improvements with an eye to suggesting any necessary course corrections, according to the announcement.

    The committee members bring together a range of experiences and specialties from the private sector, state government, health care, academia and veterans organizations.
    “The collective wisdom of our committee members is invaluable and each of them understands that VA must improve customer service and focus the Department on the needs of our Veterans. They are dedicated to that mission and I am grateful for their principled service to our Veterans,” McDonald said.

    The VA secretary announced the committee membership in Phoenix, Arizona, where he and President Obama held a roundtable meeting with veterans and employees of the regional VA medical center that emerged as the center of the patient wait-times scandal nearly one year ago. The highly publicized event was somewhat overshadowed by news earlier in the day that Sharon Helman, who was fired as director of the Phoenix hospital following revelations about the wait-lists, won back -- at least temporarily -- a $9,000 bonus that the VA had taken back from her through a reduction in pay.

    From Military.com
    1. Categories:
    2. Deployments,
    3. General Interest

    U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
    Camp Eason ‐ Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU)

    US Government Senior Leaders Visit the Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU) Team 3
    Written by LT Thornton, MMU3 PIO Staff

    On February 24, 2015, Commissioned Corps Officers of the USPHS at the MMU held a welcoming ceremony for Department of Health and Human Services senior leaders.
    Leadership visited Camp Eason to tour the MMU and meet the Corps officers who staff it. The distinguished guests who made the 5000 mile journey were, Ambassador Jimmy
    Kolker, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Global Affairs, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Ms. Dawn O’connell, Deputy Chief of Staff; they were also joined by Doug Mercado, USAID DART Lead.

    (left to right) RADM Boris Lushniak, CO USPHS CC Liberia, Mr. Doug Mercado USAID DART, Carol Han, US Embassy Public Affairs, Ambassador
    Kolker, Assistant Secretary Global Affairs, Dr. Desalvo, Assistant Secretary for Health, Ms Dawn O’connell, Deputy Chief of Staff for HHS, CAPT
    Dean Coppola, MMU Officer In Charge (OIC), CAPT Sean Boyd, MMU Deputy OIC. Photo taken in the MMU Command Tent.

    All the senior leaders expressed their personal heartfelt gratitude, shared well wishes from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and relayed the appreciation of all those back in the states for what is being done here at the MMU.

    Distinguished guests were shown MMU PPE donning (i.e. putting stuff on) procedures as well as doffing (i.e. taking stuff off) procedures. Senior officials were quite amazed at the detail oriented protocols and safety/monitoring practices at the MMU, praising the Officers of all MMU teams for keeping themselves and each other safe. The tour ended with a walk outside the gates of the MMU to allow officials to see the ambulance entry gates to the MMU and a better vantage point of the biohazardous waste incinerators. The tour ultimately led Ambassador Kolker, Dr. DeSalvo and Ms. O’connell to the survivor wall, a location where every MMU Ebola survivor and their families and friends are met by MMU staff in a celebration of life.

    Dr. DeSalvo attended a question and answer session with all the Officers of MMU team 3. Dr. DeSalvo put all the officers at ease with her approachable demeanor and genuine heartfelt responses when addressing the many questions that officers had for her. The ASH, inspired and motivated everyone, and left the Officers of Team 3 with a sense of pride in their leader.

    (top photo) Dr. Desalvo engages officers during an hour long question and answer session. (bottom photo) USPHS officers applaud Dr. Desalvo after she answers an officer’s question with a simple, genuine, but undoubtedly firm, I have your [the Commissioned Corps] back.

    The time spent with the distinguished guests from HHS was a great opportunity for Officers to shine and take pride in what they are doing in West Africa; and to showcase to Senior Officials from HHS all that has been accomplished since the MMU opened. This was a monumental occasion for PHS officers to meet some of the key figures that supported the USPHS in answering the ask of the White house and the Liberian people, and for Senior Officials to meet the Officers in the filed who are dedicated to serving the underserved and vulnerable.
    1. Categories:
    2. Deployments,
    3. General Interest

    Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU) Team 3 – Running Strong
    Written by LT Thornton, MMU3 PIO Staff

    February 21, 2015A little over two weeks ago, Change of Command ceremony on February 7, 2015 commemorated the transition of leadership from MMU Team 2 to MMU Team 3. During the ceremony, CAPT James Dickens, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of MMU Team 2, officially turned over the reins by passing the Mission’s Guidon to CAPT Dean Coppola, OIC, MMU Team 3. The passing of the Mission’s Guidon is a time honored tradition signifying the transfer of responsibility associated with command. Paraphrasing the words of both the outgoing and incoming OIC’s, much has been accomplished and much more remains to be done. As Team 2 stood down and relinquished their duties, Team 3 stepped up to assume those responsibilities and build on successes of the teams CAPT Dickens passes the Guidon to CAPT Coppola that came before. This was a truly joyous and humbling moment for individual officers on both teams. As one team took up the mantle of providing hope for healthcare workers in Liberia who may have contracted the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the other team looked forward to returning to their loved ones after a job well done.

    MMU Team 3 (left) and MMU Team 2 (right) in formation at Change of Command Ceremony

    Team 2 yells and cheers as Team 3 walks off the busses and into the Living Support Area.

    However, we would be missing a significant part of the story if we did not briefly highlight the events that led up to the change of command between MMU Team 2 and Team 3. Team 3 participated in pre-deployment training in Anniston, Al developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and hosted by Department of Homeland Security. During this training a small number of Team 3 officers contracted influenza and, like the good public health officers we are, we mitigated risk by implementing some simple precautions, to include putting the entire team on Tamiflu. We also delayed departure a few extra days to ensure not only that Team 3’s officers would be in the best condition when we hit the ground in Africa, but also, so that Team 2 would not be put at any risk and could return home safely. All the while, Team 2 excitedly planned and prepared for Team 3’s arrival, drafting and organizing SOP’s and setting up transition schedules. To make a long story short, Team 3 boarded a plane and was recalled to Atlanta, GA after 3 plus hours of flight time over the Atlantic. The change in plans would ground Team 3 in the U.S. for 3 more days. It goes without saying that, after being delayed almost a week, Team 2 was just as excited for Team 3’s arrival as Team 3 was to have finally arrived.

    Steadfast Treatment

    The MMU has seen 37 patients since its doors opened, 19 of which have been positive for Ebola. Team 3 is the first MMU team to assume command of the MMU with confirmed Ebola positive patients admitted; so from the start it was full speed ahead. In fact, training at other ETU’s in Liberia, a common practice with previous MMU teams, was not necessary since our transition training included Memorial for patients seen at the MMU. Drawing of an MMU providing care for Ebola positive patients photo done by Team 1 Officers within our very own unit. Team 2 did an extraordinary job with the transition; passing along concepts and practices established by Team 1 and adding their own experiences and enhancements. The foundation provided during the CDC and USPHS pre-deployment training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, coupled with the in-country experience and training provided by team 2, set the pace for team 3.

    MMU Team 2 leading practical training of MMU team 3 for doffing as part of the transition training.

    MMU Team 3 night shift LCDR’s Bellama (left) and Bonislawski (right) inspecting each item of PPE before putting it on. Night shift Nurse Lead CDR Cindy Adams is assisting with doffing.

    It was bittersweet when team 2 departed early on February 7th. We had quickly bonded with our fellow Officers and worked well together during training. Yet, we were also eager to take the reins and do what we had been called upon to do. Team 3 quickly took to caring for our patients and running the MMU with an enthusiasm and vitality that comes with any new task and undertaking. Additionally, the unit had many outside groups visit the MMU, including, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Disaster Assistance and Response Team (DART), CDC, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Army, Directors from other ETU’s, such as the International Organization of Migration and Aspen Medical. All wanted to see the MMU, the facility that not only was caring for Health Care Workers (HCW) stricken with EVD but also bolstered the confidence of the Liberian and Dr. Wasambla, Director of the Tubmanberg ETU international HCW community to take a stronger stand against Ebola; knowing that the U.S. Public Health Service manning the MMU had their backs if they became ill with EVD symptoms.

    Enduring Hope

    Caring for healthcare workers so they, in turn, can care for Ebola patients throughout the region is a noble mission and one not to be taken lightly. We are providing hope and a commitment to care for those who are fighting Ebola on the front lines in Liberia. The Team understood the gravity of our mission and how deadly and unforgiving Ebola Virus Disease is while training, yet nothing can reinforce that reality like treating Ebola positive patients. However, like the MMU teams before us, and all our Ebola fighting peers to date, we stand strong in our commitment to service and the optimism and hope we have for each and every patient. Early in our mission our resolve was tested with the passing of one of our patients, a patient who fought from the day of admission by Team 2 until the day he passed. When that battle was lost, we ensured dignity and cultural sensitivity was observed, we witnessed the family’s strength through faith, and we consoled one another. That deep feeling of loss was palpable in the days that followed, yet we pressed on, because we still had patients who were depending on us. Hearts heavy with loss, our EVD positive patient, was improving dramatically, fueled us both to continue healing ourselves and each other. And heal we all did, especially when Marphen Yardolo walked out of the Confirmed Ward MMU on the 17th of February to be welcomed back to her family and the world. She was now the 9th Ebola survivor from the MMU.

    As of February 21, the MMU continued to experience a growing surge of interest among government agencies and senior officials, NGO’s, Embassy Staff and Congressional staff. Although Ebola embers continue to burn throughout the affected countries, this increasing number of tours is an obvious sign of progress made toward eradicating Ebola in Liberia specifically, and West Africa too. We have established great working relationships with sister Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), including two run by International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Buchanan and Tubmanberg, who committed to helping us supplement our clinical staff if our patient numbers increase. Visits from congressional staff and HHS Assistant Secretaries has allowed senior U.S. Government representatives to meet and converse with MMU Team 3 officers and see the importance and value of this mission first-hand. Another unique aspect of the mission is direct engagement, by invitation, with other countries’ deployed forces, specifically the Ukrainian Detached Helicopter Unit and the Chinese and German ETU’s. Our officers have been able to attend significant functions and events, further enhancing our U.S. diplomatic and technical relationships.

    A Story in the Making…

    It is evident that while each team serves to execute a similar mission, each team so far has had, and will continue to have, some distinctly different experiences while in Liberia. To that end Team 3 eagerly meets each day with enthusiasm and unbridled optimism knowing we are still writing our story.
    Published on 01-31-2015 12:42 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Jason Humbert, 40, of Washington is serving as a nurse with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and helping to treat Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia.

    Life has changed in Monrovia, Liberia. People living in the West African capital used to embrace friends and family, but now keep their distance. Schools have closed, and remain so. Awareness campaigns keep popping up throughout the city, including a sign in December that read, “Don’t give Ebola this Christmas. No touching, no hugging, stay safe.”

    Any danger of contracting the Ebola virus is about 5,000 miles away from here, but Jason Humbert, who grew up in Washington, is reminded daily of the disease. He is completing a six-week assignment at a hospital in Monrovia, where he provides medical care to local and international health care workers who contracted Ebola. As a nurse and officer with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he has helped eight people fully recover from a disease that often turns deadly.

    “This is not only good news for the patients, but a positive sign for other brave health care workers on the front lines to know there are resources for them if they become ill with Ebola,” Humbert said in an email. Since the Monrovia Medical Unit opened in November, officers have treated 33 health care workers, 15 whom tested positive for Ebola. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Liberia was hit the hardest by Ebola with more than 3,600 deaths, followed by more than 3,150 deaths in Sierra Leone and 1,880 deaths in Guinea.

    Humbert, 40, graduated from Washington High School in 1992 and now lives in Ashburn, Va., with his wife, Tina, and their three young children. He holds degrees in nursing, homeland security and public health preparedness, and he previously worked for the Army Nurse Corps and National Institute of Health. His late mother, Patricia Humbert, was a nurse at Washington Hospital for 40 years. He said the residents in Liberia have shown “exceptional resiliency” in response to the first outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and also the largest outbreak of Ebola anywhere. Many swapped their daily greetings for “elbow bumps,” he said, and schools are expected to reopen in February.

    “The social distancing aspect of helping to prevent the spread of Ebola was a dramatic change in cultural practices for Liberians, who are used to greeting each other with handshakes and hugs,” he said. “Liberia has adapted quite well to these new practices, which has helped with containing the spread of Ebola.” He said the number of health care worker infections fell in Liberia and Sierra Leone, but rose in Guinea in December.

    “The numbers of cases suggest a decline in the epidemic, which is good news. The message now seems to be to not get complacent, to keep vigilant about the social distancing and practices that have helped curb the spread of the virus.” Humbert works alongside a team of doctors, infection control officers, pharmacists, lab workers and behavioral health specialists. They work 12-hour shifts and sleep in tents with bunk-cots at night.

    Officers follow strict regimens to keep themselves safe, such as disinfecting their rubber boots daily, washing their hands with chlorine and wearing full suits in the hot and humid climate. They also don two pairs of gloves, goggles and an apron. Removing the safety gear is a step-by-step procedure that is monitored by other officers.

    Health care workers have a higher risk of infection because they come into close contact with the patients and highly infectious bodily fluids, Humbert said.
    “Additionally, in their communities, health care workers are usually the first point of contact when someone is sick,” he said. “Health care workers have the potential to be exposed to the virus when they are away from the treatment centers and not in personal protective equipment.” In addition to his current assignment, Humbert has investigated the market of fraudulent products that claim to treat, cure or prevent Ebola.

    USPHS, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, is a uniformed service with more than 6,800 public health professions “serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations domestically and abroad,” according to a news release. Officers have responded to public health emergencies including the September 11 terrorist attacks, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Sandy and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

    Article by Emily Petsko, Observer-Reporter.com
    Published on 12-23-2014 02:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    By Dr. Karen DeSalvo Acting Assistant Secretary for Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    (Article Reprinted from Huffpost Healthy Living)

    They sacrificed Thanksgiving with their families. They left behind aging parents, nervous spouses, and growing children. They were not able to celebrate their kids' birthdays in person, cheer them on at football and soccer games, or see them perform in their schools' holiday concerts. They postponed a honeymoon, missed a family trip to see the Rockettes, and canceled a vacation to Central America. They missed out on hot showers, hugs from their loved ones, and a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed.

    As Chief Medical Officer, Captain Paul Reed wrote, they said goodbye to "the many little exceptional moments like cooking dinner while the kids are doing homework on the counter, picking out pumpkins for Halloween, or curling up on an early morning."

    On Saturday, they came home.

    They are officers serving in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. They went to Liberia to offer help, healing, and hope in a country deeply impacted by Ebola - continuing the legacy of our Corps and our country. When our neighbors need us most, we open our hearts and extend our hand - regardless of whether they live in places near or far.

    The mission - which continues, with the dedicated officers of a second team that takes their place and arrived in Liberia recently - is to care for health care workers, so they, in turn, can care for the people in the region who have Ebola.

    The officers who returned this Saturday have helped pave the way both for our own officers and for the rest of the world as they come to West Africa to be a part of this historic, humanitarian mission.

    Like the many other men and women from the U.S. Government who are deployed to West Africa, including from the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Commissioned Corps presence is not only saving lives. The work these public servants do is opening minds. It's sending a message to aid workers from West Africa and around the globe that we are there to serve you so you can continue to serve others. It's an important part of moving beyond the fear and embracing the facts.

    I want to share some words that Lt. Jason Kopera wrote to his commanding officers: "...overhearing a conversation with a Ghanaian army soldier while waiting at the heliport in Bong gave me a new perspective. Basically, he said everyone was watching and waiting to see what the U.S. would do, and that once we arrived it gave everyone a sense of renewed hope and allowed them to breathe a little easier knowing that everything was going to be okay. How often do you get the chance to have that type of global impact?"

    I had the chance to welcome home Lt. Kopera and dozens of his fellow officers as they arrived back on U.S. soil this past Saturday. I am so grateful for their service and sacrifice. For giving up holidays, helping with kids' homework, and happy moments with loved ones so they could serve others, half a world away.

    Follow Dr. Karen DeSalvo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KBDeSalvo
    by Published on 12-21-2014 09:50 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Job well done TEAM 1 and thank you for being the first to blaze a trail for all officers in the next rotations through MMU-1.

    As so well stated by Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, "
    I am so grateful for the service and sacrifice of all of our Commissioned Corps officers. By healing health care workers at the Monrovia Medical Unit, they are able to bring additional safety and security to the people of Liberia."

    Published on 12-18-2014 01:11 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    This article was written by Former SG Richard Carmona and is reprinted from The Daily Caller

    On Dec 15 the U.S. Senate took action largely along party lines to confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as the next U.S. Surgeon General. This nomination has languished for a year due to insufficient Senate support for Dr. Murthy. But, as the lame duck session entered its 11th hour, Senator Reid again invoked the nuclear option to clear the way for Dr. Murthy’s confirmation.

    Dr. Murthy barely received enough votes to be confirmed – culling together the support of just 51 Senators primarily along party lines. This is indeed unfortunate since the doctor of the nation needs bipartisan support to be successful. For disease and the public’s health knows no party affiliation. Dr. Murthy is a gifted young physician very early in his career. He has some early significant accomplishments behind him but no formal public health training and little management or senior leadership experience. His nomination became controversial due to his inexperience and his political advocacy and perceived bias and on several issues. That being said it is important to recognize that the problem is in the politicization of the Surgeon General nomination process and Dr. Murthy’s nomination and confirmation simply reflect that dysfunction.

    The Surgeon General is the leader of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The position carries with it the rank of Vice Admiral. This is a three star rank equivalent to the Surgeons General of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The difference is that the Army, Navy and Air Force Surgeons General earn their rank and title after decades of selfless service, as did the U.S. Surgeon General before politicians began to circumvent the uniformed service merit system for their own benefit.

    This blatant act of political self-interest does not benefit the public but does undermine the credibility of the office of the Surgeon General and serves to demoralize and demean the career uniformed service of our men and women who are now marginalized and prevented form meritoriously being considered for Surgeon General as they once were.

    Partisan politicians acting in self-interest is nothing new. However, we should recognize that by politically conferring the rank of vice admiral and the title of Surgeon General on any person who has not earned that right you are actually disadvantaging that person from the start. In the beltway where the Surgeon General resides and works his peers are real admirals, generals and senior health professionals who have earned their respective positions.

    Politicians have many opportunities such as ambassadorships and appointed partisan positions to reward political support and advocacy. The office of the Surgeon General should never be a pawn for political patronage. The public expects and deserves the most qualified public health professional who merits consideration.
    Ironically, if not but for a late political strategic blunder by a Republican senator, Dr. Murthy’s name may never have been advanced for confirmation.

    Putting the plague of politics aside we now must turn to the more important issue of protecting the health, safety and security of the nation. Dr. Murthy is fortunate in that he will be surrounded by members of the USPHCC. True professionals who, after many years of public health leadership and management experience, can provide him with historical perspective and public health guidance moving forward. Dr. Murthy would be wise to follow their lead.
    Published on 12-15-2014 09:35 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Murthy, 37, is a British-born Indian-American who was educated at Harvard and Yale and has both medical and business degrees. He completed his residency in 2006 at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he is an attending physician. He will be the first Indian-American to serve in the role. Murthy's nomination comes from his political advocacy during the election campaign for President Obama, although his past statements on gun control slowed his nomination. In 2008, he co-founded Doctors for Obama, a group of doctors and medical students who supported the Obama campaign. The group transitioned to Doctors for America after President Obama won. Normally, Dr. Murthy would enter the Corps as a LCDR but with this nomination and confirmation, he is an Acting Vice Admiral.

    Murthy is the latest in a string of executive nominations that were only able to pass the Senate after Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed through a rules change last year to lower the threshold from 60 to 51 votes to advance certain presidential nominations. Republicans have not said whether they will keep the rules change in place in the next Congress. Murthy replaces Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, who has been serving since former Surgeon General and Acting VADM Regina Benjamin resigned in July 2013. RADM Lushniak has resumed his role as Deputy Surgeon General.

    RADM Lushniak was simply the best Acting Surgeon General the career Corps could have hoped for; moving up the rank and experience ladder since joining the Corps in 1988, he led the Corps like no other ASG. His experience in CDC's EIS Program, at NIOSH and FDA made him an ideal Surgeon General with the breadth of experience necessary for the job. RADM Lushniak is highly experienced in the field, having completed service with the Indian Health Service in Winslow, Arizona and most importantly, serving with NIOSH in the field where he conducted epidemiological investigations of workplace hazards. RADM Lushniak is well established as a first responder and member of the Command cadre, having served on special assignments and disaster response activities in Bangladesh, St. Croix, Russia, and Kosovo, as part of the CDC/NIOSH team at Ground Zero (World Trade Center) and the CDC team investigating the anthrax attacks in Washington, DC. He served as the Chief Medical Officer of the Office of Counterterrorism at the FDA, and in 2005 was appointed FDA Assistant Commissioner, Counterterrorism Policy and Director of the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats within the Office of the Commissioner.

    RADM Lushniak was born in Chicago to post-World War II immigrants from Ukraine. He is an inspiration to many inside and outside the ranks of the Corps and will likely go down in Corps history as one of finest examples of the unfairness of the current nomination system that minimizes the career officers of the Corps as only able to attain Acting or Deputy roles in the service of our nation, despite being far, far, more qualified for the Surgeon General position than any civilian nominee.
    Published on 11-24-2014 11:04 AM

    MONROVIA, Liberia — A cluster of American uniformed officers gathered in the sticky heat this week to say a prayer for a dead Liberian nurse, the first loss to Ebola at the only U.S. government-operated clinic in West Africa.

    The 34-year-old nurse's death Wednesday hit the American staff hard at the clinic charged with caring for health care workers sickened by Ebola.
    "She was one of us. She was a health care provider just like all of us," said Russ Bowman, 53, of Albuquerque, a lead physician here. "This is what this unit is for — to provide care to folks ... providing care for the people of Liberia. We're here to back them up. And we weren't able to save her. And that's a tragedy."

    Reporter's Notebook: Inside Liberia's Ebola fight

    The nurse — whose name was not made available — was unconscious and already failing when she arrived by ambulance the night before. "It's a shame she wasn't here a lot earlier," said Jennifer Malia, 41, of Laytonsville, Md., a lab medical technician. "I believe we really could have helped and maybe had a different outcome."

    Her arrival at such a late stage of the disease raises concerns that the new clinic, which opened Nov. 7, is not being adequately publicized by Liberian health officials. Four Liberian health workers with Ebola are being treated there. All are improving. "I'd like to be able to answer that, definitively, yes (word has spread)," says Paul Reed, the chief medical officer. "But I don't know that."

    Chief Medical Officer Paul Reed.(Photo: Gregory H. Stemn for USA TODAY)

    When President Obama announced in September he was sending U.S. troops to Liberia, it was with the caveat that none would directly treat patients infected with Ebola, which has killed 3,000 in this country.

    U.S. diplomat doubts Liberia Ebola cases will end soon

    But with health workers among the most threatened by the disease, the responsibility for a clinic devoted to treating doctors and nurses who become ill fell upon the U.S. Public Health Service, a little-known branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. "It's a very noble mission, an honorable mission," says Reed, who left behind a wife and four children to deploy.

    The Public Health Service is one of the nation's seven uniformed services with members who carry military ranks and wear uniforms similar to those of the U.S. Coast Guard. They often are sent to domestic and international health disasters.

    This is the first time Public Health Service members have operated an Ebola clinic. All 69 workers here are volunteers. "I told my oldest before I left 'This is what God wants us to do. We're here to help people. That's what Mommy does,' " says Malia, a married mother of three. Malia and her colleagues live on pre-packed military Meals Ready-to-Eat. The clinic sits near Liberia's international airport and looks much like a military field hospital with air-conditioned, barrack-like structures assembled neatly into a green zone and a hot zone for Ebola patients.

    Liberian president hopes to defeat Ebola by Christmas

    Clinicians follow painstaking procedures for donning and taking off protective gear, thoroughly dousing themselves with a chlorine mix to kill the virus as they shed the suits.
    With the hoods and masks on in the red zone, they are nearly unrecognizable. So many carry a small photo on their suit allowing patients to see what they look like.

    Bowman says he has developed a healthy respect for Ebola. Clinicians are methodical about how they move around patients. One staff member always watches for any safety breach. "It's kind of like a rattlesnake," Bowman says of the disease. "You don't poke it. You know what it can do. You prepare for it. You avoid things that can put you in harm's way."

    Hand washing is key to protecting U.S. troops from Ebola

    The Liberian nurse was in the last stages of the disease, her body teaming with the virus. The U.S. Public Health officers washed her repeatedly with water tinged with chlorine and kept fluids flowing into her veins, hoping that by morning she might improve. But the nurse was too far gone, Bowman says. "She was unresponsive when she came in and clearly very ill. ... We did what we could for her," Bowman says. "It's a very tenacious illness."

    Lt. Shane Deckert and CDR David Lau work inside the Monrovia Medical Unit.(Photo: Gregory H. Stemn for USA TODAY)
    Published on 10-31-2014 04:01 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    CAPT Calvin Edwards has deployed to Liberia to oversee a U.S. Public Health Service team combating Ebola.

    CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A Chambersburg man has deployed to Liberia to oversee a U.S. Public Health Service team combating Ebola.
    Calvin Edwards, 51, received recognition from President Barack Obama in a Wednesday afternoon speech about American health care workers fighting the outbreak. Obama’s remarks apparently referred to The Washington Post’s interview with Edwards as he prepared over the weekend to board a C-17 aircraft headed to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

    “We read about how on his 29th wedding anniversary, carrying a pillow from home and a copy of the New Testament he takes on deployments, he left for training to oversee a team in Liberia … but before he did, he made sure to buy his wife a dozen roses,” Obama said, as quoted in a transcript of the speech.

    The Washington Post quoted Edwards as saying he is respectful of Ebola, but not afraid of it.

    “It doesn’t hop from person to person. It requires contact with bodily fluid,” he told The Post.

    On a typical day, Edwards does food-safety inspections for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Harrisburg, Pa. However, he also is a member of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services. The Public Health Service is composed of health professionals overseen by the U.S. surgeon general. The nation does not currently have a surgeon general in place because the Senate has stalled on confirming the nominee submitted by Obama last year.

    A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that Edwards is the officer in charge of the Monrovia Medical Unit. Sixty-five officers comprise the team that is caring for health care workers who become ill from Ebola. “The Commissioned Corps are trained and ready to respond to public health crises and humanitarian missions. The dedicated officers have the skills to make a significant impact in one of the international community’s most devastating public health emergencies,” Acting Surgeon General Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak said in a statement.

    Ebola in West Africa has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.

    The Post reported Edwards, an amateur beekeeper, left for training in Alabama on Oct. 19. He has four children. “As he boarded the plane to Monrovia, Capt. Edwards reminded his team of their oath to defend our country, and they responded with a rousing rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ And they’re all there right now, making us proud,” Obama said in his speech.

    Reprinted from Herald Mail Media
    Published on 10-28-2014 08:11 PM

    HARBEL, Liberia—”Where have you done this before?” USAID Administrator Raj Shah asked on October 15, as he stepped through the taupe colored tent flap into the new 25-bed critical care hospital being built to treat all health care and aid workers who fall ill to Ebola. “Nowhere, sir. No one has,” replied an army engineer.

    Historically, mobile medical units like this one provide versatile trauma care for military operations. In this case, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) customized the Monrovia Medical Unit to treat highly contagious Ebola patients.

    Once complete, the hospital will be operated and staffed by a team of 65 specialized officers from the USPHS Commissioned Corps – an elite uniformed service with more than 6,800 full-time, highly qualified public health professionals, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations domestically and abroad.

    The Commissioned Corps will deploy clinicians, administrators, and support staff to Liberia to treat health care workers with Ebola, and to continue efforts by USAID, DoD and international partners to build capacity for additional care in Liberia.

    Link to Photos
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Do We Need a Surgeon General?
    Federal Times - By Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS

    As I finished writing this opinion piece, the title seemed to evolve into a rhetorical question. The Ebola crisis has metastasized to the United States and the media and numerous government and private spokespersons are attempting to educate and calm the American public while not inflaming or confusing the situation.

    A single credible, trusted, nonpartisan recurring voice is what is needed to educate and reassure America and the world who is watching us.
    Recently, Surgeon General Jesse Steinfeld, the 11th surgeon general of the United States (serving from 1969 to 1973), passed away. His obituary heralded his many significant accomplishments as surgeon general and commander of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. What was particularly striking and concerning and voiced in his obituaries and commentary about his life, were references to Surgeon General Steinfeld having to fight and battle various individuals, groups and entities in order to promulgate health policy that would benefit the public he served.

    This prompted me to review the obituaries and commentary about other surgeons general who passed away in the last decade. These would include Surgeons General Julius Richmond, #12; Bill Stewart, #10; and C. Everett “Chick” Koop, #13.

    These surgeons general were extraordinary public servants who served selflessly in increasingly embattled positions. Like Surgeon General Steinfeld, their obituaries and press commentary were often punctuated with adjectives such as, “fighting,” “combative,” “battling entrenched political interests,” “adversarial maneuvering” and “stressful attempts to take out or eliminate the surgeon general”. These descriptors often sounded as if the surgeons general were officers in a combat unit battling hostile adversaries as they attempted to survive in an increasingly partisan battlefield. The sad truth is they were, we still are and in some cases the surgeons general succumbed to the lethal wounds of political warfare where resuscitation is rarely possible.

    Surgeons general of the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service were always career uniformed officers who merited consideration for promotion and advancement by their seniority, accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, education and training. The White House would receive recommendations from the respective uniformed service chiefs and the President would then recommend names to the Senate for confirmation as a surgeon general with the rank of Vice Admiral or Lt. General, depending on the service.

    This tried and true process, over a century old, still exists in the uniformed services except for the U.S. Public Health Service. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, various political administrations have gone outside of the USPHS to identify and nominate candidates who were believed to be more politically aligned with the political party in power at the time. By doing so, they demean the service of career USPHS officers who are qualified but passed over in attempts to align science with desired political platforms.

    Interestingly, these attempts at prospectively attempting to identify politically aligned surgeons general nominees have usually failed and caused frustration for leaders in both political parties over the years; all surgeons general come to understand that you are the doctor of the nation and not the surgeon general of the Republican or Democratic parties.

    In addition, those outside nominees, if confirmed, are immediately promoted to vice admiral even though some have no military or uniformed service experience. This process is offensive to all career officers who selflessly sacrifice throughout a long uniformed service career to merit consideration for promotion as an admiral and surgeon general. This politically motivated action also diminishes the credibility of the Office of the Surgeon General.

    It is also apparent that not every physician is capable of being surgeon general. An example would be the current nominee for surgeon general who is very early in his professional career, with great potential but without significant progressive leadership experience or specific public health education or in depth experience with complex policy, global and public health issues. However, he was the co-founder of Doctors for America, a partisan organization supporting President Barack Obama.

    In a recently published book, Surgeon General’s Warning, author Mike Stobbe painfully discusses the gradual political demise of the United States surgeon general and suggests that therefore, it may be time to end the position. As much as I appreciated Stobbe’s scholarly work, my review of it leads me to a very different conclusion. We should actually act to strengthen the Office of the Surgeon General by protecting it from political manipulation. In our hyper-partisan political world characterized by gridlock and great political poetic license in the interpretation of science to support ones preconceived political bias, who will have the responsibility to speak scientific truth to power? Who will provide the scientifically based “informed consent” to the American public and at times, the world?

    Eliminating or allowing further diminishment of the Office of the Surgeon General to occur is not in the best interest of the American public although it may benefit politicians.

    In July 2007, I joined Surgeons General Koop and Satcher testified before a congressional committee investigating the attempts to politicize the Office of the Surgeon General. Three surgeons general serving four separate presidents, from the very liberal to the ultraconservative administrations, all testified on the issues challenging them during their tenures. The surgeon general testimonies were remarkably similar and a clear bipartisan indictment of the attempts to manipulate science and diminish the Office of the Surgeon General. Not surprising but extremely disappointing, Congress took no action on this unprecedented testimony that they themselves had requested.

    It is clear that our nation needs and deserves a strong, qualified and nonpartisan surgeon general who resides in a protected and well-funded Office of the Surgeon General. The public we have the privilege to serve deserves no less.

    Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, served as the 17th Surgeon General of the United States.
    by Published on 10-09-2014 10:57 AM

    A White House Office of the Press Secretary-issued FACT SHEET entitled "The U.S. Government's Response to Ebola at Home and Abroad" identifies the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as operating and staffing a hospital for infected health workers. The USPHS is preparing a cadre of 65+ officers, composed of Safety / Preventive Medicine, Pharmacy, Nurse, Physician, and support staff for 60 day mission rotations to operate a treatment facility for health care workers who have contracted Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The 25-bed hospital will be established in Liberia, West Africa. The USPHS officers will be selected from multiple Tier deployment teams.

    To illustrate the challenges faced by health care workers, symptoms may present post 2 - 21 days after exposure to body fluids, which include fever, unexplained bruising, headache, vomiting, stomach pain, muscle pain, unexplained bleeding, and diarrhea. This means constant vigilance among health care workers and our officers to be both self-aware and observe others for symptoms. Further complicating ebola symptomology, West Africa is a physical and mental challenge due to heat stress and vectorborne / foodborne / waterborne transmitted diseases that can cause physical symptoms similar to EVD. Officers will need to be in optimal fitness and heat acclimatized as much as possible.

    At symptom onset, transmission of the virus can occur from contact with blood, saliva, urine, tears/conjunctive tissue, sweat, vomitus and feces. After symptom onset, death occurs (on average) after 10 days without intervention. If the patient survives into convalescence, secretions of blood, urine, tears/conjunctive tissue, semen, vaginal, milk and fecal matter may transmit the virus over 84 days post symptom onset. Medevac from Liberia takes approximately 3 days, and return from Africa approximately 5 - 7 days, after which officers will need to monitor themselves for symptom onset.

    The U.S. Public Health Service is the only uniformed service taking a role in direct patient care. The Department of Defense will provide specimen testing and health care worker training, logistics and infrastructure.
    Published on 09-26-2014 06:22 AM

    09-24-2014 09:10 AM

    A Burlington Nurse Takes On Ebola in Liberia
    Seven Days
    Dressed in jeans and a navy blue polo shirt emblazed with the U.S. Public Health Service logo, Goode explained the ravages of Ebola in the manner of someone used to distilling wonky topics into simpler form. The disease manifests itself in fevers, ...

    Link to the story...
    Published on 07-05-2014 10:58 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. General Interest

    Published: Jul 6, 2014

    By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

    The politicalization of surgeon general selection should be eliminated, rather than scrapping "the nation's doctor," a former holder of that post argued.
    Powers gutted by federal reorganization in the 1960s and further weakened by risk-averse politics in the White House aren't likely to return, Mike Stobbe, DrPH, of the Associated Press had argued last week in an interview with MedPage Today. That interview coincided with the release of Stobbe's book "Surgeon General's Warning: How Politics Crippled the Nation's Doctor."

    However, Stobbe's conclusion that "it's probably time to get rid of the surgeon general," moved the 17th Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, to send a comment to MedPage Today. Carmona, whose term ended in 2006, was sharply critical of Stobbe's conclusion, which prompted MedPage Today to follow-up with an interview.

    "It is an extremely important role and one that the public recognizes as important because of the credibility of the surgeon general," he told MedPage Today. "I would argue very strongly that more than ever we need the office of surgeon general today, as we do the U.S. Public Health Service." Carmona, now a public health professor at the University of Arizona in Tuscon and a professor at Ohio State University College of Nursing in Columbus, explained his reasoning in this interview, which was edited for length.

    Does the politics surrounding selection undermine the position?
    Carmona: The challenge has been more a political one than any issue of relevance to the office of surgeon general. If you go back to the late '60s and early '70s the surgeon generals were always promoted from within the ranks in a merit system and this is the same system that the other services follow. The Army, Navy, and Air Force have surgeons general too. Their secretary offers a name to the White House, the president nominates, the same process takes place and ultimately the Senate confirms that person. The departure started few decades ago when both parties started to politicize the office and go outside of the system and pretty much ignore the career officers in the uniformed system in hopes of probably finding someone that may be more aligned to the political party in power at that time. I think it's wrong for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, it's devaluing the service of career officers. In the Army, Navy, and Air Force you never see those challenges. It becomes an embattled position because of the politics.

    It is an extremely important role and one that the public recognizes as important because of the credibility of the surgeon general. The surgeon general really is not the doctor of the Democratic or Republican party; you are the nation's doctor. I look at the surgeon general's office much like we look at the Federal Reserve or even a Supreme Court Justice. You are supposed to rise above the political bias and rule on the best finance information, the best law information, and, the surgeon general, opining on the best scientific information. Why would you want to marginalize that position in a world that depends on understanding complex science and applying it to policy?

    What changes would you like to see?
    Carmona: First of all, I think we should revert back to promotions to U.S. Surgeon General based on merit from the career public service officers who merit consideration because they have dedicated their lives to the health, safety, and security of the nation. Number two, would be to reaffirm that the surgeon general is the commander of the U.S. Public Health Service and that the surgeon general should be involved interpreting and understanding complex science and translating it to the American public, translating it to Congress, translating it to the secretaries in other departments.

    Last, my recommendation to Congress and the president would be that we should not ask, but demand, that that the surgeon general prepare a State of the Nation's Health every year and that would include an assessment of global health because we are inextricably tied to the rest of the world. And it should include what are the challenges that we're facing now, whether they be infectious diseases, whether they be chronic diseases, whether they be the long-term effects on our veterans in the war effort -- there are so many issues that our government are involved in where there's an intersection of health, or safety, or security. The surgeon general is the interface there as well.

    How likely are the kind of changes you describe?
    Carmona: No question it will be tough. There's nothing happening in Washington these days that isn't tough. This will be among many things but we shouldn't shy away from it because it may be difficult or it may be caught in a political discourse, especially by ill-informed people. The fact is this is a very valued position both to the American public and to America in general. I strongly believe a strong surgeon general and a strong Public Health Service is in best interest of the United States and, in some cases, the rest of the world.