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Medical team partners with federal agencies to provide COVID-19 support to island nations

  • Published
  • By John Dwyer III
  • DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

In continued support of the U.S. and international partners’ fight against COVID-19, the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support provided over $800,000 in testing and treatment equipment to the Solomon Islands and American Samoa in April.

DLA Troop Support Medical supply chain’s partnerships with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Department of Health and Human Services aided in the acquisition and ongoing delivery of more than 39,000 at-home tests and ten oxygen concentrators to help control the spread and effects of COVID-19.

“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 more than 39,000 test kits requested by U.S. INDOPACOM and funded through Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster Assistance, and Civic Aid, will help identify positive COVID-19 cases among residents at remote hospitals in the Solomon Islands.

“These orders were from customers without accounts for our eCommerce platforms, so it’s a lot of work, and partnerships with [U.S. Transportation Command] and our DLA liaisons like [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Liaison] Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Wnek are absolutely critical in getting the items where they need to go,” Poplawski said.

Ten oxygen concentrators were also delivered to the American Samoa islands on behalf of HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, a branch devoted to response to, and recovery from, disasters and public health emergencies according to their website.

American Samoa had nearly no cases until earlier this year, DLA Troop Support Operations and Plans Business Development and Whole of Government Division Chief Dorothy O’Connell said. But in mid-March 2022, a spike in cases 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 [DLA Distribution] 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 coordination call was made to HHS’ Emergency Operations Center to validate the ‘ship-to’ address and details, and the items were airborne, O’Connell said.

She added that 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.

“On the call [with the HHS EOC], I mentioned that we had a few more oxygen concentrators if they needed them,” O’Connell said. “They already had two or three regions in mind that may need them in the near future.”