Naval Hospital Jacksonville hosts high-reliability summit with aviation and submarine leaders

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Story by Yan Kennon on 04/12/2017
About 225 health care professionals gathered on April 6 for Naval Hospital (NH) Jacksonville's High Reliability in Health Care Summit, held at Patrol Squadron 30's auditorium aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville.

NH Jacksonville hosted the event as part of its journey to becoming a high reliability organization. Speakers included leaders from health care, aviation and submarines.

The concept of high reliability was initially developed in high-risk industries, such as aviation and nuclear power. High reliability organizations operate in complex, high-hazard settings for extended periods without serious accidents or catastrophic failures. They work to create an environment in which potential problems are anticipated, detected, and responded to early.

"By embracing the disciplined, systematic approach of the Navy submarine force, the complex yet fluid choreography of Naval aviation, and the unparalleled teamwork of Naval special warfare, we can accelerate our shared goal of highly reliable health care," said Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, deputy chief, readiness and health, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The event included discussions about the safety cultures in aviation, nuclear propulsion, and health care; the high reliability bridge between aviation and health care; high reliability strategies to improve care to the fighting force; and resiliency and mindfulness to support peak performance.

High reliability organizations share five characteristics: preoccupation with failure, resistance to simplify explanations for successes and failures, sensitivity to operations (situational awareness), deference to frontline expertise, and commitment to resilience.

There are three pillars of high reliability in health care: leadership commitment to zero-harm goals, a positive culture of patient safety, and robust process improvement.

High reliability has been described as persistent mindfulness within an organization. Staff of all ranks continuously look for small glitches and near-misses, act quickly to fix problems and address root causes, and share lessons learned across the larger community.

"We provide care for the most deserving patients on the planet," said Capt. David Collins, NH Jacksonville commanding officer. "Our high reliability journey is central to that care."

The event featured retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, senior vice president for university programs (southern region), Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, deputy chief, readiness and health, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Capt. David Collins, commanding officer, NH Jacksonville; Capt. Michael Connor, executive officer, NAS Jacksonville; Capt. Steven Hall, commanding officer, Trident Training Facility Kings Bay; Cmdr. Michael Robinson, chief medical officer, NH Jacksonville; and retired Lt. Cmdr. Laura Bennett, president, Laura A. Bennett & Associates.

Attendees included staff from NH Jacksonville and St. Vincent's HealthCare.

NH Jacksonville's priority, since its founding in 1941, is to heal the nation's heroes and their families. The command is comprised of the Navy's third largest hospital and five branch health clinics across Florida and Georgia. Of its patient population (163,000 active and retired sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, guardsmen, and their families), about 85,000 are enrolled with a primary care manager and Medical Home Port team at one of its facilities. To find out more or download the command's mobile app, visit

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