By Christine A. Stapleton, Lee Ann Eisler, and Carole Brown
In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department of State’s Bureau of Medical Services (MED) activated the Health Alert Response Team (HART). In collaboration with other Department bureaus and outside agencies, HART monitors, provides guidance, and supports evacuated personnel and family members from affected areas around the world. HART aligns its leadership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information which allows the latest evidence-based practices to be implemented and communicated with Department personnel. Additionally, MED’s infectious disease physician guides leadership in Washington, D.C., medical staff, and personnel at post and also continues to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak.
Medical staff posted in embassy health units continue to provide medical care to personnel who remain at post in mission-essential capacities. MED’s Clinical Programs Office is working to ensure that health units abroad have adequate information, supplies, and support to handle local, regional, and global outbreaks around the world.
Through coordination of efforts, MED’s Operational Medicine team has been successful in evacuating hundreds of American citizens from the center of the outbreak. MED’s exam clinic has been offering school physicals, tuberculosis testing, and immunizations for evacuated children to support a prompt return to schools in the Washington, D.C. area. Working in collaboration with the Family Liaison Office, MED is also providing assistance and wellness information to returning personnel and their families.
MED’s mission is to safeguard and promote the health and well-being of America’s diplomatic community. HART, Clinical Program, and Operational Medicine teams will continue to collaborate in monitoring COVID-19 and provide necessary aid to the chief of mission personnel as the situation evolves.
Christine A. Stapleton is a Foreign Service medical provider, Lee Ann Eisler is managing director for Clinical Services, and Carole Brown is a nurse practitioner in the Bureau of Medical Services.