Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton-Area Providers Team Up to Break Ground on COVID-19 Treatments
Col. Bradley Lloyd, Wright-Patterson AFB's Director of of Medical Education, recently described his installation’s partnership with Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio as long – to the point where “it’s hard to nail down” precisely when the partnership started. The partnership originated decades ago with graduate medical education programming, and eventually became a joint program under Wright State University. The program services about 400 residents, and also includes other allied healthcare positions such as nursing and respiratory therapy. Col Lloyd emphasized how the collaboration benefits both the Air Force and civilian students.
Wright-Patterson AFB and Miami Valley Hospital’s collaboration recently gained notoriety for their ground-breaking efforts surrounding COVID-19 convalescence plasma (CCP). The CCP therapy treatment has been administered successfully to 18 patients, and could not have happened without the intellectual capital involved in this partnership. On 24 March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released an emergency investigative new drug protocol for COVID-19 CCP for severe disease. CCP involves utilizing plasma from a donor who contracted and recovered from COVID-19. Using an existing protocol as a starting point, the partners developed their own protocol. They eventually created a coalition that included Premier Health, the Dayton VA Medical Center, Kettering Health Network, and Dayton Children’s Hospital, and brought a donor to the Dayton area.
On 6 April, the first CCP donation was taken, and it has since been used to treat multiple COVID-19 patients. As Dr. Roberto Colon, who is System Vice President of Quality and Safety for Premier Health, recently told the press, “In just under two weeks, this therapy went from a concept at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center to operational across the city of Dayton.”
Wright-Patterson AFB is engaged in a variety of additional efforts to combat the virus, including: participating in a Community Support Cell; making face coverings; and coordinating volunteers for restocking food.
Tyndall, Community Establish Five Partnerships in 90 Days
Partnerships can assist in overcoming even the great of challenges. Leaders at Tyndall AFB and the surrounding communities have used collaboration as a force multiplier as the folks on both sides of the fence line seek to rebuild after Hurricane Michael, establishing five partnerships in only 90 days. In October 2018, the category five storm devastated the region encompassing Tyndall AFB. With 484 buildings damaged or destroyed, the installation had a long road to recovery. Base and local leaders chose to approach recovery as an opportunity: they set their sights on becoming an example of resilience.
Achieving this aspiration will require a strong working relationship, built with significant time and effort. To lay a foundation and build momentum, the AFCP Program guided the partners in identifying a series of quick wins: five partnerships that could be established and produce results within a tight timeframe. The result was a truly amazing breadth of collaborations in an impressively short amount of time.
A medical training affiliation agreement with Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Hospital will expand local training options for the 325th Medical Group A joint mosquito eradication effort with Bay County allows the partners to work in concert instead of working in parallel to address mosquitos. The partners are also utilizing SkillBridge, a Department of Defense (DOD) program that enables service members to work in their local communities during their final months of service to facilitate a smoother transition to civilian life. A partnership focused on spousal employment will provide military spouses access to online job training and priority job placement initiatives. Finally, an agreement between the installation, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and Gulf State College will facilitate unique training on high-speed vehicle pursuit.
A number of factors contributed to the collaborators’ success – namely, the partners’ steadfast mission-focus on developing these partnerships within the stated timeframe. AFCP assisted by providing the structure of weekly calls supported by multiple staff, who supplied institutional knowledge and best practices. The partners added further structure and accountability through a steering committee, while work groups ensured that the appropriate subject matter expertise contributed to the process. These factors allowed the partners to succeed, even during the pandemic. While the parties could hold a limited number of in-person discussions, they relied heavily on conference calls and other means of carrying out their work remotely.
Though the Air Force dedicated funds to support the rebuild effort, it will take more money and “years before the rebuild (of Tyndall AFB) will be complete,” stated Col. Brian Laidlaw, who served as the 325th Wing commander during this challenging time. These collaborations are an important step towards ensuring that the entire Northwest Florida region area works in concert to build a strong, thriving region capable of weathering any adversity. And with five partnerships underway, these ambitious collaborators are asking themselves, “What’s next?"
Blanket IGSA Signed between JBSA, AACOG
In the fall of 2019, the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) and Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) established a historic blanket IGSA, which facilitates a new level of ease and efficiency for contracting. Under this new agreement, JBSA has the flexibility to go directly to AACOG for installation goods and services through internal resources or their network of service providers. “This agreement creates a much more symbiotic relationship between the many missions of JBSA and the communities that host those missions,” said AACOG executive director Diane Rath. Indeed, the agreement creates an important new source of revenue for the area. In return, the agreement leverages AACOG’s knowledge of the local market and existing relationships with vendors while consolidating the responsibility for coordinating disparate services onto one primary point of contact. The arrangement also benefits local vendors, who can contract through AACOG rather than the federal government to serve JBSA.
The US Army saves around 22 % annually by using an IGSA for installation support services at the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, California. JBSA and AACOG will leverage their blanket IGSA to achieve similar efficiencies. A previous IGSA in which the City of San Antonio coordinated the completion of a road paving project served as a proof of concept. That project took only two months, compared to the eight months that such a project would typically take.
Congress originally granted the IGSA sole-sourcing authority in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. The law intended these special agreements to be used when such an arrangement would serve the best interests of the department by creating efficiencies or economies of scale, including by reducing costs, or by enhancing mission effectiveness. To that end, IGSAs are not subject to other provisions of law governing federal contracting, and can be sole sourced to state or local governments. Not every arrangement is suitable for an IGSA: these contracts cannot more than ten years, for example, and the state or local government receiving a sole source agreement must already be providing the service. However, there are a variety of circumstances under which IGSAs can be a valuable asset. The Air Force has successfully executed multiple IGSAs to-date. With such promising results, we will continue championing the utilization of this tool.