Tom Bundt, RES’ 09
Medical is truly the front line here. I currently command Madigan Army Medical Center and as the first U.S. State to come up on the net with COVID-19 and mitigation, it’s been quite a journey. “Team Madigan” in close coordination with I Corps, our Regional HQs, and other tenant units, have all been addressing the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines to the operations cells since the beginning as the first site for the outbreak to truly manifest itself. What is really new in this regard is the main effort role of military medicine in this context. I cannot recall a time in history where the nation felt engaged in a war where the medical component was the lead effort other than the Spanish Flu of 1918. These are truly unprecedented times and should go a long way in highlighting the amazing capacity and capability of the DoD Military Health System and all the elements that make it an indispensable component of our go to war kit bag, no matter the adversary. You cannot obviously see this enemy, but it is invisible as well in its infectious form where is can be present in those asymptomatic to the illness. These characteristics and many others have defined this as a truly novel disease and hence the name. The other piece that should not be lost on this is the necessity for all the elements available in the military medical system inventory to work in concert with a common goal. No matter the final structure, there truly needs to be an appreciation for the gravity of something like this and its lack of concern for Service, system, component or command lines of authority or accounting. In this respect, specifically, there has truly been some silver lining. The work to prepare for the transition to Full Operational Control (FOC) by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and the standing up of the formal markets under the new construct has helped to form bonds and relationships that in truth, were previously either rare or nonexistent altogether. Our Navy colleagues for example, although operating on another installation, have worked closely with us throughout this time — whether it be sharing resources, staff or materiel — the relationships built through the market development meetings and communities of practice engagement have born some significant unforeseen fruit. The feeling that we are truly one in this regard has definitely made a very challenging and occasionally tragic situation, bearable as well as winnable. The challenge of COVID-19 is still very much with us as we have several in our facility and have staff losses in our out sick lists as a result; however the system remains incredibly resilient. The courage and bravery of our staffs to constantly reenter the fray, support one another, whether this is in the ICU, the Medical Surgical wards, or in the logistics warehouse as they struggle to manage the demand on PPE and other items, is ever present and something a few of us are privileged to witness up close and personal. I thank you for allowing the opportunity to put a plug in for our incredible military medical system and the true character of those in the front line fight against a determined enemy that can only be defeated as a team and corporation united in one common cause.
COL Thomas S. ‘Tom’ Bundt
Resident Class of 2009, Seminar 11
Commander, Madigan Army Medical Center
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington