FOREST PARK, Ga. –
The Department of Defense has deployed medical professionals across the country in response to COVID-19. To date, more than 1,200 are members of the U.S. Army Reserve. Medical providers transitioning from civilian employment to active duty require their medical credentials to be verified and validated to assure they are properly privileged to treat patients. The team that assures this is accomplished are the unassuming professionals of the Army Medical Department Professional Management Command (APMC).
Forty one Soldiers, 18 Department of the Army Civilians, and 29 contractors make up the skilled team, headquartered on Gillem Enclave in Forest Park, Georgia, that have been working around the clock to assure Army Reserve medical providers are prepared to treat fellow Americans. Although the majority of the team is now teleworking in compliance of Department of Defense guidelines, it has not hindered their herculean efforts.
APMC’s daily mission is to provide operational agility and reduces risk to mission by providing centralized medical credentialing and operational privileging for nearly 7,300 privileged and non-privileged Army Reserve medical providers.
The command’s current operational tempo has been supercharged with the need to provide rapid credentialing for medical professionals that have assembled, often with less than 48 hours’ notice, to move forward to assist civilian and disaster response agencies efforts against COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Army Reserve response has altered the method in which providers are being credentialed and privileged,” explains Col. Todd Traver, the commander of APMC. “Due to the urgency and short timeframes involved with projecting forces into the COVID-19 fight, APMC is initially granting disaster privileges in lieu of full operational privileges to members of the three medical commands. Namely the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) and Army Reserve Medical Command.”
Disaster privileges offer verification of a medical provider’s current license and valid federal identification card and are valid for 30-day intervals. Once disaster privileges have been awarded, APMC is required to begin the process of full privileging. Disaster privileges are extended for subsequent 30-day intervals until the provider is awarded operational privileges or the disaster response operations end.
The week of Mar. 30 alone, the credentialing team validated more than 660 licenses for providers required for newly formed Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces (UAMTF). Since the initiation of COVID-19 planning operations, APMC has verified more than 1,000 licenses, granted nearly 600 disaster privileges, initiated 160 electronic applications for operational privileges, and updated hundreds of credentialing documents, to assure Army Reserve medical providers are ready to support the American public at various medical sites the Department of Defense is manning across the nation.
“I am proud of APMC's role in the fight against COVID-19,” states Staff Sgt. Shantell Simon, a combat medic assigned to the APMC training team. “We enable those to go out and fight on the front lines. My teammates are diligently working to ensure privileges are established while preventing any delays in the deployment process.”
“It makes me feel very proud and honored to be involved with the fight against COVID-19,” remarks Charles Nelson, a DOD Civilian and retired Army Sgt. 1st Class, now serving his nation as a training manager for APMC.
APMC credentialing division leaned into preparations for potential COVID-19 response operations in late January when it became apparent that the virus was likely going to spread to global pandemic proportions.
“As the great leadership in charge has continuously stressed, we should not wait until a disaster happens to get ready” remarks Traver. His sentiments were echoed by Capt. Gina Esteban, a risk manager in APMC credentialing division, “The Army reserve prepared me with training, constant reinforcement and a mindset of always being ready, like the Soldier's Creed dictates.”
Lt. Col. Kathy Bloyd, chief of the credentialing division at APMC, notes that providers often call to verify their credential file is current and up to date. Providers also have access to their credentials file via a website, and commanders are provided as weekly credential readiness report of their medical formations.
The team also manages the many officers who are attending medical or dental school or completing residency programs utilizing the Army Medical and Dental Stipend Program or the Specialized Training Assistance Stipend programs. Additionally, the APMC provides administrative support to medical officers who live geographically remote from their unit of assignment. This relationship gives these providers flexibility in how and when they complete their military obligations, flexibility critical to both recruitment and retention of critical medical specialties in the military.
“It’s an honor to serve and assist my peers and not only my peers but the United States of America.” states Sgt. 1st Class Jessica D. Horton, a financial management NCO. “It is great to be able to assist in a positive and healthy way. If everyone does their part with the rules and guidelines this will be over with soon.”
If you or a loved one receive care from an Army Reserve provider at an Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force site, or your local clinic, you can be confident that their credentials have been verified by the diligent team at the Army Professional Management Command.