Story by Regena Kowitz on 07/02/2019Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Forrest Faison discussed the future of Navy Medicine, and how it plans to prepare medical personnel for the next fight, while visiting San Diego, June 25-27.
As the guest speaker at the San Diego Military Advisory Council's breakfast and during talks with leaders and Sailors at Naval Medical Center San Diego's Branch Health Clinic Miramar June 27, Faison spoke about important changes occurring within military health care, in particular the transition of all military hospitals to the management and administration of the Defense Health Agency (DHA).
These changes, Faison said, will allow Navy Medicine to shift focus from managing buildings and health care benefits to ensuring its peopledoctors, nurses, and hospital corpsmenhave the skills and experience to keep Sailors and Marines, healthy, ready, and on the job.
"There is no greater responsibility than providing medical forces that are ready, prepared, and present to save the lives of the nation's armed forces," said Faison. "We had a 97 percent survival rate coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the highest in history, and we had every conceivable advantage, including uncontested air superiority, aeromedical evacuation on demand, seamless communications, and our hospital corpsman. We could place our medical personnel strategically to maximize the golden hour, the time from point of injury to care from a surgical team."
Those are advantages we may not have in the next conflict if adversaries are near-peers who can also project sea power, explained Faison. That's why Navy Medicine has to be prepared for very different threats and challenges in future conflicts.
"We've got to be ready," Faison said. "Because our service members and their families are depending on us to bring them home."
With the DHA responsible for managing the MTFs to provide high quality care, Navy Medicine will have the flexibility to send personnel where they can best hone the operationally relevant skills they'll need to save lives on the battlefield.
Faison said this is where community partnerships will play an important role. In addition to getting training and experience at military medical centers, Navy Medicine can send Sailors to civilian hospitals where they will be exposed to the kinds of injuries they'll see in operational environments.
"What you'll see is a combination of care at our medical centers as well as care with our community partners, as we get our doctors, nurses, and hospital corpsman ready for combat because, first and foremost, we need to be ready for the next fight," said Faison.
Partnerships that prepare Navy Medicine's Sailors for future conflicts can build on the successes of existing ones, such as the initiative between the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (Lovell FHCC), and John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, a level 1 trauma center in Chicago, Illinois, where hospital corpsman gain hands-on trauma experience, and the Navy Trauma Training Center's collaboration with Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California, where teams of Navy Medicine personnel work together in real and simulated trauma scenarios to prepare for deployment.
With all the changes underway in military health care and Navy Medicine, Faison emphasized it should be seamless and transparent to patients.
"One thing that will not ever change is our commitment to those we are privileged to serve," said Faison.