Rear Adm. Dana Thomas, the Coast Guard’s chief medical officer, and Capt. Perry J. Kremer, commanding officer of Health Safety and Work-Life Service Center, are personally recognizing and thanking all Coast Guard medical clinics for the resiliency and readiness they demonstrated throughout intense conditions last year. Thomas has bestowed the 2020 Health Care Facility of the Year Award on all of the clinic teams because their service to the greater Coast Guard community, which has been invaluable throughout the pandemic, the unprecedented hurricane season, and beyond. All staff at Coast Guard clinics were able to rise to the occasion of continuing crucial mission support during a once in a century pandemic, all the while, having to deal with the myriad ways the pandemic was affecting their own lives.
To support needs arising from the pandemic, the Health, Safety and Work-Life (HSWL) team activated reservists to increase medical capacity to augment our clinics. Beyond COVID needs, the staff also assisted with medical operations for Department of Homeland Security and supported extended cutter patrols. Despite the global challenge, the clinic staff kept the workforce ready, informed, and prepared to conduct missions and safeguard themselves and their families from an emerging infectious disease.
“The medical community had to wear multiple hats to support fellow Coast Guard members and meet mission demands” said Chief Warrant Officer Terri Pierce, Thomas’ executive assistant. In total, 205 members were deployed to assist with medical needs. “In regular years, it’s a healthy competition for the award and only one health care facility is selected,” said Pierce. “However, the pandemic reached every corpsman and every clinic. Admiral Thomas felt that we needed to acknowledge each clinic and recognize that all were deserving of this award.”
The Delta variant prevented in-person visits to all 43 Coast Guard clinics therefore, only some recognitions were provided at sites and others virtually. At one of the in-person ceremonies held in Washington D.C., for Base National Capital Region (NCR), Thomas shared her sentiments with the staff.
“I want to thank each of you for your heroic efforts and I hope that you feel recognized and supported,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do with COVID, including contact tracing, and we have been able to do our best, as smoothly as possible, considering how this process requires so much of us and our nation.”
Thomas continued sharing at the Base NCR ceremony, her words representative of those shared at the other ceremonies, “As I present you with this citation of recognition, I also want to encourage you to prioritize yourselves and to take care of your own health needs and your families’ so that you can feel ready and prepared to continue addressing the needs of the other 47,000 members [who] need you.” Thomas is responsible for the Coast Guard's health care system of 43 clinics and 124 ashore and afloat sick bays.