By Mr. John Ciccarelli (Regional Health Command Pacific)September 28, 2018
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Brig. Gen. Dennis P. LeMaster assumed command of Regional Health Command-Pacific in mid-2018. His previous assignment was as the commanding general, Regional Health Command-Europe. Recently, the Public Affairs Office had an opportunity to sit down with LeMaster for an interview. Below are the questions asked of the CG and his responses.
Q1: You assumed command of Regional Health Command-Pacific earlier this year. What is your overall assessment of the region so far?
LeMaster: I am impressed with the professionalism and commitment of our team, particularly in the delivery and quality of care across the region.
Q2: What would you say are the region's greatest capabilities that contribute to the military health care mission?
LeMaster: Regional Health Command-Pacific is Army Medicine's largest geographic region, spanning the entire Indo-Pacific basin. We ensure our nation fields healthy and ready Soldiers, and we take care of our military Families. In terms of our national strategy, our readiness, global health engagements and relationships with allied and partner nations are all critical to providing international stability. It's about taking care of humanity and all nations, all armies, which reflects positively on our military and nation as a whole.
Q3: As the commanding general, what are your top three priorities?
LeMaster: The readiness of our military members; delivering health care that excels across access, quality, safety and satisfaction; and preparing this region for the transition of the National Defense Authorization Act's section 702, which aligns military treatment facilities under the Defense Health Agency.
Q4: The Chief of Staff of the Army's number one priority is readiness. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of readiness as our military positions itself for a multi-domain battle environment?
LeMaster: We need to field formations that are fully manned with human beings who are at their best physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
With multi-domain battle, we talk about near-peer conflict, and it is important to note that we are not going to have some of the luxuries we had before in previous conflicts. This includes air supremacy and the ability to evacuate casualties via air ambulance as quickly as in conflicts over the past 50 years. This affects evacuation timing, hospitalization capability, equipment and training, particularly around holding trauma patients forward a little longer until we have windows of opportunity to evacuate them.
A combat support hospital takes days to set up and days to tear down. We need to look at placing smaller and lighter, hospitalization nodes, on the battlefield that are independently mobile, so that they are dispersed and survivable.
Q5: You are triple-hatted as the RHC-P CG, United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) surgeon, and the Puget Sound Military Health System (MHS) market manager. What would you say is the common thread that connects all three to one common goal?
LeMaster: The USARPAC surgeon's role is focused on ensuring medical operational support to USARPAC formations and synchronizing the medical force tactically and operationally. We also ensure USARPAC formations have medically readily soldiers
As commanding general for Regional Health Command-Pacific, I focus on delivery of care. The Market Manager ensures the efficient use of the joint service medical resources, so our patients can access care when they need it, in the most efficient way possible, and at the best cost. If a Sailor from Naval Hospital Bremerton can't get an appointment in that hospital, can they be seen at Madigan Army Medical Center, a half-hour away? Or, can they access care in the local network provided by a managed care support contractor? We synchronize and pull those elements together.
Q6: The entire MHS is currently undergoing a total reorganization, which means a lot of changes are on the horizon. What message would you like to send to the RHC-P team about the future of the region?
LeMaster: Our routine work will continue. How we are organized will change. How money flows will change, but there is still a requirement to do the basics of health care delivery. Patients are the focus of our formation, regardless of how our hospitals are aligned.
Q7: As our nation continues to develop relationships with Asian nations, what do you see as RHC-P's strategic role in the Indo-Asia region?
LeMaster: We have a unique ability to use the influence of medicine to establish relationships worldwide. Health care is about taking care of humanity no matter what nation you're from. We have an interest in assisting other countries in developing their medical forces, so they can take care of their nation, their people, and promote a higher quality of life.
Q8: As the commanding general, what is the best part of your job?
LeMaster: The mission and the people I work with. This is a high-performing organization. Everyone has a sense of purpose. No matter where I travel throughout this region, there is an enthusiastic energy. It is totally motivating.
Q9: What is the one thing you want the region to know about your leadership style?
LeMaster: I believe in empowering the team to get the work done. Each of us takes care of our part of the Army, our own sphere. If we do that, we will advance the larger interest of the region, of Army medicine, of the Military Health System, toward taking care of our patients and improving the readiness of our forces.