Healthcare delivery at Womack Army Medical Center will be the responsibility of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) beginning October 1 as result of fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization (NDAA) Act.
With this change, Regional Health Command-Atlantic (RHC-A), U.S. Army Medical Command's (MEDCOM) largest health region, will focus its efforts on medical readiness of all Soldiers assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, while still supporting healthcare and readiness at its remaining 13 military treatment facilities (MTFs).
The readiness mission includes dental care of active duty Soldiers, public health services, veterinary services, and providing management and support to wounded, ill and injured Soldiers assigned to its seven warrior transition units.
Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland, RHC-A commanding general, understands the importance of getting the transition of healthcare at Womack right as the lessons learned will ensure the efficient transition over the next three years of healthcare at Army medical facilities and also at Navy and Air Force facilities.
"This is a tremendous and important undertaking that is taking place at Womack for the Army and Army Medicine" said Crosland, who served as the commander of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "Throughout this transition, the Womack team must continue to provide safe, quality healthcare to their patients. Col. (John) Melton is an excellent leader and physician. He understands that and will ensure that patients continue to receive the medical care and services they expect from Womack."
In less than two months, DHA will be responsible for healthcare delivery and MEDCOM, through RHC-A, will be accountable for Soldier medical readiness. How will the two distinct organizations effectively separate and manage these two vital missions?
Originally, FY17 NDAA required two leaders, a medical director in charge of healthcare delivery and a service commander whose priority is ensuring Soldiers are medically ready to fight and win.
To ensure that the two-leader concept was the best for the Army and more importantly Soldiers and patients, the Army held three table-top exercises, or TTXs, in May and June at Defense Health Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
DHA, MEDCOM, RCH-A and Womack leaders and senior staff dove into multiple real-world scenarios to determine the responsibilities of each to identify issues that may hinder the transition of healthcare to DHA or impact beneficiary healthcare or Soldier readiness.
It was during these TTXs that it was determined that one leader, responsible for both healthcare and readiness, will serve the Army, its Soldiers, retirees and their families the best. This leadership recommendation and other TTX findings were put to the test in July during a three-day rehearsal of concept at Fort Bragg.
After three-days of deliberation, participants selected the one-leader concept as the way-ahead for Womack and the other service medical facilities selected.
For Col. Melton, one of the primary advocates for the one-leader concept, this was a decision that makes sense for the Army and the other service medical facilities that will move to DHA.
"As the Womack Commander, I will continue to integrate both readiness and health to support the Fort Bragg Senior Commander and all tenant units," Melton said. Readiness of the force remains our number one priority. The transition to DHA will be transparent to all those that we support and care for. The delivery of safe, quality, and accessible care is foundational within our profession--this will not change 1 October."
Those facilities joining Womack are Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, the 81st Medical Group, Keesler Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi, the 628th Medical Group, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and the 4th Medical Group, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. The remaining DoD medical facilities will transition to DHA by October 1, 2021.