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Naval Hospital Bremerton transition to Defense Health Agency is right in front of you

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MARCOA Media
Story by Douglas Stutz on 09/23/2019
Navy Medicine military treatment facilities (MTF) transferring management and administration to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) is old news at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB).

Unbeknownst to many, NHB actually began the transition albeit well behind the scenes - to DHA several years ago.

Visible proof?

Look no further than the nearest computer screen at the command.

NHB was the initial site to transition Informational technology to the DHA network, having migrated over 1,500 workstations in February, 2016, followed by a transition to the Global Service Center a month later.

DHA owns the lifecycle of all standard software and hardware, including desktops, laptops, tablets, printers, network gear, storage, and virtual server platforms. DHA has also created the standard workstation configuration(s), manages all user storage, and owns the perimeter firewall security.

Additionally, since 2016, all trouble calls and user requests go to the DHA Global Service Center. According to Mr. Patrick Flaherty, NHB Chief Information Officer, approximately half of all tickets are resolved there, with the rest sent back to NHB to get resolved at the local level.

"It's important to view the DHA and site relationship as a partnership," said Mr. Flaherty, noting that for user storage, NHB is responsible for monitoring and managing service at the user level.

"That is to say, we are responsible for deleting user files when staff depart, or to assist with recovering a lost or damaged file," added Flaherty.

Printer support is another example.

"We are responsible for deploying, diagnosing, coordinating repair, and modifying printers. Additionally, we configured MHS GENESIS to use local printers," explained Flaherty.

Advancing beyond DHA at the desktop level, here's the background primer of what else is pending: By Oct. 1, 2019, Congress has specifically directed DHA to take over the responsibility of administration and management for MTFs, such as NHB, along with Branch Health Clinic(s) Bangor, Everett and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

"The change in administration will be transparent to our patients service members, retirees, and family members with little or no immediate effect on their experience of care whether in the direct care system or via the TRICARE network. Our commitment to providing safe, high-quality, patient-centered care will not waiver during this realignment," added Capt. Shannon J. Johnson, Naval Hospital Bremerton commanding officer.

Along with Informational Technology, DHA will be responsible for health care delivery and business operations across the Military Health System, including budgets, health care administration and management, administrative policies and procedures, and military medical construction.

This is akin to Commander, Navy Installation Command (CNIC) taking over management of all Naval Base Kitsap commands, including NHB's campus and grounds since 2011.

With Navy Medicine's principal responsibility and main emphasis completely shifting to operational readiness, NHB will become a Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command unit (NMRTC) to improve the ability to meet the needs of operational commanders. Survivability of Navy and Marine Corps personnel in the future warfighting environment requires a medical force that's ready to deploy immediately and save lives.

As NHB's commanding officer, Johnson will serve as both the MTF director under the DHA and as the NMRTC commander under Navy Medicine following the transition.

"Our NMRTC will preserve command and control of the uniformed medical force, provide a single point-of-contact for our Navy fleet and Fleet Marine Force, and allow us to continue to support our operational commanders. The operational readiness of every member of our Navy Medicine team is paramount to combat survival. We are committed to readiness and to ensuring a ready medical force and a medically ready force," explained Johnson.

It is also expected that personnel will be largely continue to do what they have always done, in the same working environment, before the transition.

"Our commitment to provide the best in safe, patient-centered care will not waiver during this realignment. Our mission remains the same, which is keeping Sailors, Marines and their families healthy, ready and on the job," stated Johnson.

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