By Cannoneer staffJuly 12, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 12, 2013) -- Thirteen years ago as the Cárdenas family drove out Fort Sill's Key Gate, tears streamed down the cheeks of Army wife Cristi, and her daughter Kristian, age 4, as they began their next move to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said Col. Noel Cárdenas.
"At that moment I thought: 'Wouldn't it be incredible to get the opportunity to return to Fort Sill to command Reynolds?'" he said.
That day arrived July 2 as Cárdenas became the Reynolds Army Community Hospital (RACH) commander taking over for Col. Jennifer Bedick, during a change of command ceremony at the Old Post Quadrangle.
"It is truly an honor and a humbling experience to assume command of the Fort Sill MEDDAC (Medical Department Activity), said Cárdenas, who was most recently Brooke Army Medical Center chief of staff and deputy commander for administration at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Cárdenas pledged to continue RACH's record of outstanding health care to its patients.
"Thank you for the trust and confidence you place in the Fort Sill MEDDAC team," Cárdenas said. "Meeting your medical needs and expectations are our primary reasons why we serve."
The new commander also addressed Fort Sill leaders, and said as the senior medic he is committed to serving them and building upon their partnership.
Cárdenas told his hospital staff he will provide them with strategic leadership, guidance and vision to get them through these challenging economic times
"Working as a team, everything is possible," he said.
Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, Southern Regional Medical Command commanding general, at Fort Sam Houston, officiated the ceremony.
During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Bridges, RACH CSM, first handed the unit colors to Bedick, who passed them to Keenan. Keenan then passed the colors to Cárdenas symbolizing the change in leadership. Cárdenas then returned the colors to Bridges for safekeeping.
In her speech, Keenan welcomed Cárdenas, who she said was thoroughly tested at the Southern Region.
"I know from your experience that you're going to take Reynolds to the next level," the general said. "You are a phenomenal leader, you have a phenomenal support system in your family, and I have full confidence in you.
Keenan, who presented Bedick with the Legion of Merit medal before the ceremony, recounted Bedick's accomplishments during her two years of command. This included:
- RACH consistently ranking No. 1 of the 11 Southern Regional Medical Command hospitals in minimal pharmacy wait-times, and review models.
- Building one of the highest patient-satisfaction rates in the region.
- Expertly handling the increase of patients in the Warrior Transition Unit from 92 to more than 170 Soldiers.
"Jennifer, you have done absolutely a fantastic job of pushing Reynolds toward excellence," Keenan said. "You never rested on past actions, you continued to improve access at Reynolds, as well as reach out to partners in the community to ensure that we were offering the best health care to all of our beneficiaries."
Bedick will move on to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, where she will be deputy commander for nursing, as well as Pacific Regional Medical Command nurse executive.
Bedick said that command is more about the personnel in the command than the commander.
"You on the field make the command," she told the assembled troops. "For the past 25 months, you've made me look good."
She credited her Soldiers, civilians, contractors and community partners for: a successful Joint Commission survey, regularly scoring in the top 10 in medical command business practices, achieving National Committee for Quality Assurance Level-3 recognition, increasing operating efficiency by more than 50 percent, and maintaining an under five-minute wait time for the pharmacy.
"You came to work with a great attitude, you worked together as a team remembering that the customer what was most important, be it the Soldiers, family members, retirees, each other, other entities on post or our community partners," she said.
"Serving to heal, honored to serve!" Bedick concluded, reciting the motto for the Army Medical Department.