By Sharon D. AyalaDecember 7, 2017
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, WASHINGTON -- It's been approximately three months since Brig. Gen. George Appenzeller assumed the responsibilities of deputy commanding general (DCG), Regional Health Command-Pacific (RHC-P), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. And in that time, Appenzeller, who was promoted last month at Fort Stewart, Ga., has quickly adapted to RHC-P's geographic make-up and its unique mission requirements, and has gotten to know the members of the team.
"The headquarters staff, both here at JBLM and in Hawaii, has been very accommodating and very supportive, and has made me feel very welcome," he said.
Since 2016, as result of a reorganization of the U.S. Army Medical Department, RHC-P has been operating as one command in two locations. The region's main headquarters is located in Honolulu, Hawaii. Appenzeller, and about 120 military and civilian personnel, make up the headquarters team at JBLM.
When discussing the region's unique composition, Appenzeller, who is a board-certified emergency medicine physician, said the split operations has been successful because of the team.
"This region is really the sum of its people," Appenzeller said. "What could have been a very challenging situation, has in fact, not had a significant impact on the region," he said. "The region staff is still able to focus on the mission at hand, readiness of our medical providers, the care of our beneficiaries, and preparation of Soldiers to deploy and complete their missions, with the focus of taking care of them when they get home," he said.
RHC-P's mission is to provide combatant commanders with medically ready forces throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Its area of responsibility covers multiple time zones and includes medical, dental and public health facilities in Hawaii, Korea, Japan, Alaska, Washington State and California. The region also has a robust global health engagement mission designed to build and foster relationships with host and partner nations throughout the Pacific Rim.
As the DCG, Appenzeller's primary responsibility is maintaining fiscal management and oversight of the region's facilities, primarily Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington State, California Medical Detachment, and Bassett Army Community Hospital in Alaska, and ensuring those facilities have what they need to deliver safe, quality and timely care.
"I also perform the normal deputy duties of standing in for the commanding general when he's not available or down range on a mission. The CG is also dual-hatted as the U.S. Army Pacific Surgeon, and those duties can also pull him away from the region at times," he said.
Appenzeller is no stranger to the region. From 2010 to 2012, he served as the commander of Bassett ACH. He said he will apply the knowledge from that command assignment and others to better support the region's facilities.
"One thing that I am able to recognize, having been in command at one of our more isolated posts in Alaska, is the realization that not every place is the same," he said. "As I come to the region staff, I'm able to hopefully translate some of that understanding into what I think our direct reporting units need."
In addition to his DCG responsibilities, Appenzeller also serves as the Puget Sound Military Health System's market manager. In that role, he oversees the coordination of resource sharing between Army, Navy and Air Force medical facilities in the Puget Sound area.
"Utilizing a joint approach to health care delivery, the goal is to provide better coordination of care, in a more efficient manner, to enhance access to medical services for our military beneficiaries."
Appenzeller is looking forward to the New Year and working side-by-side with the RHC-P team, and supporting the region's medical platforms.
"Our hospitals here in the RHC-P are phenomenal facilities that take great care of our patients, and I'm really just happy to be part of such a great team," he said.