Extending Protective Reach Across the Sea
The Defense Logistics Agency has been partnering with federal agencies to provide COVID-19 viral mitigation support to island nations.
By John Dwyer III and Nancy Benecki, Defense Logistics Agency
From Combat & Casualty Care , August 2022
In continued support of U.S. and international partners’ fight against COVID-19, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) provided $814,000 in testing and treatment equipment in May 2022 to the Solomon Islands and American Samoa.
Representatives from DLA Troop Support’s medical supply chain worked with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (Indo-PACOM) and Department of Health and Human Services in the acquisition and delivery of more than 39,000 at-home tests and 10 oxygen concentrators.
“This is going to help these remote hospitals so much, and it couldn’t happen without our amazing partners at DLA Distribution, the respective government partners and our DLA liaisons,” Medical Collective Customer Operations Division Chief Yvonne Poplawski said.
The test kits, requested by Indo-PACOM and funded through Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster Assistance, and Civic Aid, will help identify positive cases at remote hospitals in the Solomon Islands.
Access and Infrastructure Hurdles Overcome
The orders came from customers without access to DLA’s eCommerce platforms and required coordination with U.S. Transportation Command, DLA Distribution and liaisons such as Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Wnek at Indo-PACOM to get items where they needed to go,” Poplawski said.
“Limited infrastructure also made shipping a challenge. Twenty pallets of tests had to be broken down into 170 smaller packages for shipment to remote islands,” Poplawski noted. Arranging the shipments involved daily conversations with Wnek in Hawaii.
The oxygen concentrators were delivered to the American Samoa islands on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
“American Samoa had nearly no COVID-19 cases until earlier this year,” said Dorothy O’Connell, chief of DLA Troop Support’s Whole of Government Division. A spike in cases in Mid-March, however, overran some hospitals.
HHS turned to DLA for support of the remote location, and O’Connell’s team jumped to action to fulfill the urgent need.
“The ‘flash-to-bang’ to procure [new concentrators] would’ve been too long, but we had oxygen concentrators … that were already in San Joaquin that would work,” O’Connell said. “So, I had [DLA Distribution] take pictures, open the boxes and verify the equipment condition.”
“After forwarding the info to HHS to make sure they were acceptable, an immediate call was made to HHS’ Emergency Operations Center to validate the shipping address and other details, and the items were airborne,” O’Connell said.
“The relationships between DLA Troop Support, DLA Distribution, HHS and industry partners were not only key in this mission, but valuable connections in planning for future assistance and cooperation,” O’Connell added.