When deploying people to an extreme environment that may not have the ability to diagnose or treat COVID-19, the US government carefully considers who it deploys. The U.S. Department of Defense Central Command (CENTCOM), which covers a “central area” from Egypt to Pakistan to Kazahstan, has updated its standards in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Typically, these standards are annually updated, but the most recent modification, MOD 15, responds specifically to COVID-19.
Remote Medical International’s screening team has studied MOD 14 standards thoroughly and knows that understanding the updates in MOD 15 standards is key to safe deployments during the pandemic. Here’s what the team found in their review of the 2020 MOD 15 standards release.
DEFINING MOD 15
MOD 15 is a temporary change to the baseline medical standard for all personnel deploying to the CENTCOM Area Of Responsibility (AOR). This modification is limited to the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. MOD 16 is expected to be released after that time.
The changes to the standard are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and data about the morbidity and mortality rates of COVID-19.
As the pandemic changes medical operations in countries around the world, it is essential to keep people safe. One of the reasons for implementing the MOD 15 changes is to avoid overwhelming limited medical resources available in countries that lack the appropriate infrastructure.
DIFFERENCES IN MOD 15 COMPARED TO MOD 14
Released in 2019, MOD 14 enabled physicians to have a greater ability to recommend clearance without the request of a written waiver from a CENTCOM Command Surgeon.
According to MOD 14, “the final authority of who may deploy to the CENTCOM AOR rests with the CENTCOM Surgeon and/or the Service Component Surgeons’ waiver authority, not the individual’s medical evaluating entity, deploying platform, or Commander.”
MOD 15 creates an exception to the statement above. It reads, “during the COVID-19 pandemic, Commanders have the discretion to make the requirements more restrictive if they feel the risk to their mission is too high.”
During this uncertain time, Commanders have more authority to restrict people from missions. A person with an underlying condition may not be able to deploy during the COVID-19 pandemic if the Commander feels the person’s health may dramatically increase the risk to their mission.
Throughout MOD 15, there were minor technical changes to the standards. Below are two that are important to note:
- MOD 15 limits deployment to only those aged under 65 due to the significant risk of harm to those older than 65.
- The following line was taken out of the MOD 15 TAB A under Behavioral Health, number 13: “time of incident/referral if program enrollment not indicated by evaluation.” It takes out the requirement of needing the substance abuse incident time, but the completion date of a substance abuse program is still required.
For more information about MOD 15, or to connect with one of our screening experts, please contact us.