Undersea Warfare Center begins producing safety equipment for Naval Hospital

BREMERTON, Wash. (April 22, 2020) Hospitalman Tyler Steider, assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC), poses for a photo in one of the command's drive-through COVID-19 screening tents in the hospital's parking lot April 22, 2020. NMRTC Bremerton is committed to help stop the spread of COVID-19, reduce the risk for high-risk populations and protect patients, visitors and staff. NMRTC Bremerton supports more than 60,000 military families in West Puget Sound, shaping military medicine through training, mentoring and research to ensure a ready medical force and operationally ready force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Meagan Christoph/Released)
April 23, 2020

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) to produce safety equipment for the hospital during the Coronavirus pandemic.

An MOA is a contract between two or more organizations for services and support, such as NUWC Keyport now using its additive manufacturing capabilities to produce protective equipment for the medical providers at NHB.

Johannes Schonberg, NUWC Keyport’s Director of Engagement, said the MOA with NHB arose during NUWC Keyport’s work getting the authority to produce Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) hoods for CHI Franciscan’ Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton.

“I was coordinating with the region’s director of emergency management, and he put me in touch with the NHB Emergency Management office,” said Schonberg. “As we were starting our efforts with PAPR hoods for CHI Franciscan, CHI alerted us that NHB used the same PAPR models and also needed support with their equipment. I leveraged the Emergency Management network to reach out to NHB.”

Michael Pearson, NHB’s Safety Manager and Environment of Care Council Team Leader, said the support from NUWC Keyport has enabled NHB to significantly increase Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) staff capabilities to provide safe and sanitary direct patient-centered care.

“Our MOA with Keyport provided much needed medical supplies such as face shields and now PAPR hoods to our front line first responders so they can provide expert medical care to Coronavirus victims,” said Pearson. “This allows our first responders direct access to both military and civilian patients to provide the care needed in support of ‘flattening the curve’ of the spread of the Coronavirus.”

Doug Stutz, NHB’s Public Affairs Officer, said the partnership began with NUWC Keyport supporting NHB by producing face shields with its additive manufacturing capabilities.

“The face shields provided from Naval Undersea Warfare Center are being utilized to primarily protect our UCC team of doctors, nurses, and hospital corpsmen, so they in turn may care for those in need,” said Stutz. “The face shields worn in our UCC have been implemented as part of our overall strategy having our staff, as well as patients and visitors, protect themselves and those around them by employing (other) protective measures such as hand-washing, social distancing, wearing face-cloth coverings if a minimum of six feet can’t be maintained, and taking appropriate action if feeling ill.”

Pearson also acknowledged the MOA expanding NUWC Keyport’s support to also manufacturing PAPR hoods will improve NHB’s ability to fulfill its mission. Pearson said the MOA gives NHB far more flexibility in its effort to care for the local military community—active duty, dependent, and retired.

Capt. Jon H. Moretty, NUWC Keyport’s commanding officer, said he has encouraged his team to seek out opportunities to leverage NUWC Keyport’s capabilities in order to help fight the Coronavirus.

“Keyport is proud to be able to help the naval hospital,” said Moretty. “My team keeps charging forward, finding innovative ways to reach out and provide support for our local medical community, both military and civilian. The more Keyport can leverage its resources to provide greater protection for our medical providers, the more our local military and civilian communities will have access to care should they need it. Ensuring our people here are safe and cared for means our warfighters standing on the tip of the spear can focus on their critical responsibilities by having confidence their loved ones back home are safe. This type of support is one of the best ways we can help continue expanding our advantage even while helping fight this pandemic.”