Story by Douglas Stutz on 08/03/2019Change is constant in the military, and Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) over the last few years has seemingly gone through more than most commands.
That trend continued on a purely Navy traditional way as Capt. Jeffrey W. Bitterman handed over responsibilities as commanding officer of NHB to Capt. Shannon J. Johnson in a change of command ceremony, August 2, 2019.
"It has been an honor and privilege to serve with you as your commanding officer. Your leadership, dedication, and resilience during an incredible time of dynamic change has been nothing short of inspiring. Your commitment to delivering a medically ready force and a ready medical force is second to none," said Bitterman, noting that during his two-year tenure as NHB's commanding officer, staff members were responsible for a number of accomplishments, most notably deploying the Department of Defense electronic health record, Military Health System (MHS) GENESIS.
Deflecting credit from himself directly to his staff, Bitterman shared that along with navigating through the trials and tribulations of MHS GENESIS, it was the combined command effort from active duty and civilian alike that led to the successful Joint Commission reaccreditation survey and Medical Inspector General inspection in 2019, which positively reflecting on the command's compliance with Navy standards of care specific to the needs of patients, including infection prevention and control, leadership, and medication management.
Other recent significant achievements include NHB's Pharmacy, which includes Branch Health Clinics (BHC) Bangor, Everett and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), selected for the 2018 Navy Pharmacy Team Award. Additionally, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) Radiation Health Program Audit team found no deficiencies of the Navy Radiation Health Program administered by NHB, the largest radiation health safety program in the Department of Defense.
Bitterman also insisted in his staff laying the groundwork in fostering the strong working relationship with the Puget Sound Military Health System, a unique partnership with Madigan Army Medical Center and Naval Health Center Oak Harbor, to continually focus on providing patient-centered care within the military care system.
"So, Naval Hospital Bremerton, as you continue to navigate through a period of dynamic change and transition in the military health system, and embrace Capt. Johnson as you next commanding officer, my personal challenge to you is to always conduct yourselves with competence, character, and compassion. Take care of your people, our warfighters, and their families. Give 100 percent in everything you do. The rest will take care of itself. It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve as your commanding officer, and I could not be more proud of you," said Bitterman.
Johnson reports to Naval Hospital Bremerton after serving as Naval Medical Center San Diego executive officer since June 2017.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education, with a Special Education Endorsement and her Masters' in Education in Counseling and Guidance, from Whitworth University. She earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology in La Mirada, California, along with a post-doctoral fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychology at Harvard Medical School/Children's Hospital Boston.
Over the course of five overseas deployments, including boots-on-the-ground support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and two Western Pacific deployments on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Johnson has served on a variety of assignments, such as deploying in 2007 with the U.S. Army 113th Combat Stress Company, Camp Stryker detachment in Baghdad. She also served a second tour in Iraq from August 2008 to March 2009, with the 1st Marine Logistics Group, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, and spent seven months providing psychological care for Marine Corps units across Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
In the fall of 2010, Commander Johnson reported to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and was subsequently deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
After serving seven months as the Officer in Charge of Alpha Surgical Company, Camp Dwyer Detachment, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, she returned to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and assumed the duties of Director for Mental Health. During her tour she stood up the Warrior Recovery Center and oversaw the delivery of care to Marines returning from deployment with combat stress related conditions and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
In 2013 she was selected to provide oversight for the full range of Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Rehabilitation services as the Director of Mental Health at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, while also serving as the Assistant Specialty Leader for Navy Clinical Psychology.
"Navy Medicine's confidence in your ability, and your humility, dedication, and focus has lead you here," exclaimed guest speaker Rear Adm. Paul D. Pearigen, Commander, Navy Medicine West, and Chief of the Navy Medical Corps, acknowledging her qualifications as the new commanding officer for NHB.
"To NHB Sailors and civilians I say, you may not be sure of your new commanding officer, but I'm sure of you. Let's continue to take care of our patients, ourselves, and have fun," Johnson stated.
During a typical day at Naval Hospital Bremerton and BHCs Bangor, Everett and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, there are approximately 868 medical outpatient visits, 1,417 outpatient prescriptions processed, 53 Urgent Care Clinic visits, and two babies delivered.
The staff consists of approximately 1,300 dedicated military, civilian, contract and volunteer personnel, including active duty medical staff forward deployed in support of various overseas commitments.