Army nurse concluding 30 years of service
July 18, 2012
Commanders may come and go, but Fox Army Health Center's commitment to ensuring its beneficiaries live a lifetime of wellness remains strong, a standard of care Col. Elizabeth Johnson has dedicated the past two years of her life to.
Johnson will relinquish her command of Fox Army Health Center to Col. William Darby in a change of command ceremony Friday at 2 p.m. at Bob Jones Auditorium.
"This is not only a great team to be part of, it's just been a great community to be part of, and it really, truly is a very positive way to end my active duty time," Johnson said. "I am going to miss the whole Huntsville community and Team Redstone. It's a unique environment. There's just been so much collaboration between Team Redstone and the entire community. I will miss that."
She joined Team Redstone July 16, 2010, assuming command of Fox Army Health Center. But for Johnson, the focus has never been on her, it's about the beneficiaries, and each member of the Fox staff. And in the end, it is through those personal interactions that she has found the most reward in her time at Redstone.
"It's always been about the people," Johnson said. "The staff does a great job taking care of the beneficiaries and it's always fun to interact and talk with the beneficiaries and get to know them and talk with them on a personal basis. That's really been the highlight of being here."
In her time as commander, she has seen the medical facility through the transition to patient centered medical home, a MEDCOM directive that allows patients to be treated by the same team of doctors and nurses at each visit, allowing for better access to and continuity of care, a transition, Johnson said is ahead of schedule. She also guided Fox through the aftermath of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. The morning after the storms Fox opened its doors, providing acute care and pharmacy services for beneficiaries in need.
"The staff really stepped up to support the beneficiaries during that time, and I'm very proud of that, proud of the staff for what they did," Johnson said of her proudest moment as Fox commander.
As she retires, she will miss the people, but is excited to watch the pool of "talented Army Nurse Corps officers continuing to succeed." Passing the baton to Darby, Johnson hopes she has provided the resources to her staff to allow them to do their job and do it well.
"I hope that my lasting impact is that everyone in the organization feels like they are a contributing member of the entire success of the organization," Johnson said. "We all are a part of Army medicine, and I hope that each member of Fox knows that they are a significant partner in the success of Army medicine."
While Friday will mark the end of Johnson's military career on Redstone Arsenal, the official end of her active duty life won't come until her retirement ceremony Aug. 17 in her home state of Iowa, where friends and family will be there to help Johnson close a chapter that has lasted 30 years of her life, and begin a new one.
"Thirty years has gone extremely fast," Johnson said. "It's amazing how each assignment has contributed something toward the success of the next assignment. It's been fun. It's been an adventure. I did things and had opportunities I never dreamt of growing up. It's been a great life. I don't think I'd do anything different."
After three decades of answering the call of duty, which included assignments to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she served as chief, perioperative nursing section; Fort Benning, Ga., where she was deputy commander/deputy commander of nursing, 14th Combat Support Hospital; and to Iraq, where she was deputy commander for nursing, TF 14 MED in support of detainee healthcare operations, Johnson is returning home to Iowa, where she is building a house and hopes to get a faculty position in a school of nursing. In addition to seeking volunteer opportunities with an Alzheimer's organization, she also looks forward to some travel, including doing Route 66 with her youngest niece.
"I'm very excited to start this new chapter in life," Johnson said.