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NAVCENT Medical Personnel Embed with Bahrain Ministry of Health to Manage Pandemic Response

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Dawson Roth U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet

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U.S. Navy medical personnel assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) have partnered with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Health (MOH) since April 2020, in an effort to coordinate coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation efforts and ensure full compliance with the partner nation’s public health guidelines.

The two officers, Lt. Shannon Jackson and Lt. Dominic Chambers, serve as medical liaisons embedded with the MOH’s National Task Force for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), operating alongside Bahraini medical personnel at the Crown Prince Center for Training and Simulation.

Jackson, a Medical Service Corps officer, and Chambers, a Nurse Corps officer, track U.S. service members, coalition forces, civilian employees and their families, arriving in Bahrain to ensure they are tested and quarantined to meet both host nation and DoD guidelines. They also collaborate with the MOH to conduct contact tracing on any U.S. military personnel who may test positive.

“We realized that we had to have a way to track our personnel through the Bahrain testing system,” said Jackson. “We needed to be able to coordinate and communicate quickly with Bahrain’s public health officials.”

The operations center where they work acts as a central hub for coordination between the MOH and NAVCENT’s COVID-19 response efforts.

“As a small team, we are very fluid and able to adapt,” said Jackson. “We’re able to communicate accurate information back to NAVCENT in real-time because our Bahraini counterparts have incorporated us into their daily operations.”

Chambers and Jackson have in turn been able to brief the MOH on evolving U.S. Department of Defense requirements.

Chambers also stated that working together so closely has given both parties a chance to gain a better understanding of how the other operates.

“Effective collaboration is the best way to share knowledge, especially in health care,” said Chambers.

While COVID-19 remains a complex challenge for both public health and military organizations, the NAVCENT and Bahrain MOH relationship has reinforced that synchronized partnerships are crucial to navigating the global pandemic.

This unprecedented level of integration was enabled by the long standing relationship between NAVCENT’s force medical team and the MOH.

“Through combined, joint medical training and other collaborative efforts, we have enjoyed close coordination with the MOH long before the onset of COVID-19,” said Capt. Kevin Buckley, NAVCENT Force Surgeon. “Because of this, we’ve been able to immediately address areas of mutual concern, including pandemic response, as a unified team.”