FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii --
In response to the spread of coronavirus in Guam, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Honolulu District and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas have combined efforts to perform seven initial planning and site assessments on Guam for potential conversion into alternate care facilities (ACFs).
USACE is conducting technical planning and site assessments at Guam locations on mission assignment through FEMA, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, and the government of Guam.
Stringent COVID19 restrictions prevent USACE personnel travel throughout the Pacific region, so the Honolulu District requested direct assistance from NAVFAC Pacific and NAVFAC Marianas to provide engineering personnel support to accomplish the FEMA site assessment mission for Guam.
“This is the power of partnership at its finest. We are pleased to join forces with NAVFAC Pacific as we expedite the FEMA-directed assessments for the Guam government,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Sanborn, Honolulu District commander. “When USACE got the call to provide assistance quickly, NAVFAC stepped up to support us in the COVID-19 mission fight without a moments delay. This was the first time USACE has partnered to conduct such a joint mission. The need for time-critical assessments for the government of Guam made this partnership more crucial to the mission. NAVFAC Marianas’ assistance in getting the mission completed has been invaluable.”
The site assessment mission partnership is unique as the Army and Navy each conduct specific, yet different engineering services for Guam. The U.S. Navy and NAVFAC Marianas provide nearly all routine military engineering and construction services for Guam, while USACE provides regulatory and civil works services, supports FEMA mission assignments for disaster response, and provides interagency and international services.
"This effort is a fantastic display of "Can Do" engineering support through a joint service partnership to support the people of Guam," said NAVFAC Marianas Commanding Officer Capt. Daniel Turner. "We are pleased to be a part of this great example of teams bonding together to accomplish an important mission."
“We are proud to partner with NAVFAC in the Pacific to support the people of Guam,” said USACE Pacific Ocean Division Commander Brig. Gen. Thomas Tickner. “This joint effort highlights how agencies at all levels of government are teaming up to execute quickly and put lives first. We stand ready to increase existing health care capacity by constructing these scalable and flexible alternate care facilities. Our teams will answer the call to protect the people of Guam, the nation and its allies.”
Utilizing assessment criteria guidance provided by Jeff Herzog, Honolulu District site assessment team leader, NAVFAC Mariana's personnel conducted seven facility assessments and transmitted the data to Honolulu District for review and eventual submission to FEMA and the government of Guam.
“NAVFAC’s engineering personnel team did an outstanding job conducting and submitting complete and detailed assessments,” said Herzog. “The Guam government is eager to see the assessments as it provides data for them to make informed decisions on the potential construction of alternate care facilities.”
To transition from site assessments into constructing ACFs, USACE needs a directive from FEMA, in coordination with the government of Guam. Guam would work to lease the selected properties, if not already owned by them, and coordinate with partnering agencies to staff and supply the facilities. How much transformative construction is conducted at a potential alternate care facility location depends on site size and compatibility. Another factor is whether Guam plans to utilize the site for non-COVID-19 or COVID-19 patients.
An alternate care facility is a facility that’s temporarily converted for healthcare use during a public health emergency to reduce the burden on hospitals and established medical facilities.
USACE is prepared to assist the nation in times of crisis and is working with the White House, Department of Defense, FEMA, and other federal, state and local partners in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The FEMA mission assignments provide support nationwide to address possible medical facility shortages.
Overall, USACE has received 53 FEMA mission assignments totaling approximately $1.7 billion and has more than 15,000 personnel engaged in the response effort and providing support. Information pertaining to specifications and implementation of the alternate care sites is available on the web at https://www.usace.army.mil/Coronavirus/Alternate-Care-Sites/.