By Ms. Kaytrina Curtis (Army Medicine)February 13, 2019
The visitors came to the MEDDAC footprint as part of a week-long tour of each of the Military Treatment Facilities in the Defense Health Agency's Low Country Market. Under the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress called for alterations in the Military Health System. The various command teams came together to see what each other's capabilities are.
"As we transition military medicine into the Defense Health Agency, we're going to have to work together," Place said. "So, this is really just about achieving a shared understanding."
Place explained the importance of collaboration during the DHA transformation of the military health services is to ensure improvement processes are in place from an "efficiency perspective," but more importantly an "effectiveness perspective."
"Where across the entire spectrum, whether it's care of a Soldier, care for a Marine, care of an Airman care of a Sailor [is] that we work collaboratively first to achieve excellency," said Place.
Currently the system has more than nine million beneficiaries associated with it, and a 50 plus billion dollar budget, which makes the transition complex, yet impactful for patients.
"In other words the quality of care that we give continues to be excellent or better," Place said. "That the safety elements that we have within our systems … from a patient safety and an organizational perspective. That it stays the same or gets better. In doing all that, our staff, our uniformed staff, our civilian staff, we all understand where we're going and why we're going. So that we can be a part of the process."
Medical Treatment facilities serve as the training range for the uniformed personnel, which helps to ensure the service members are medically ready at all times. Place said the MTFs is where ready medical forces are developed, serving as a live-fire range of sorts.
"The great thing about it is we recognize that Family Member care is often part of readiness," Place said. "It's that relationship that we in military medicine have with our Families that leads to that. Similarly, much of that training that we have to do, so skill sustainment's, proficiency, currency that sort of thing, for the things that we are going to do in combat don't really happen to Soldiers and Family Members. So, we have those sorts of healthcare problems that gives us the best training environment for the things that we need to do in combat."
The transition to DHA should be transparent for the staff here, yet invisible to the beneficiary population. The great care beneficiaries receive today should be the same next month, and next year Place said.
For those who may be experiencing a sense of anxiety about what a DHA future looks like, Place works to ally those thoughts.
"The DHA is us," Place said. "More than anything I want people to feel comfortable that the impact that they're worried about will likely be significantly less than what they're actually going to experience."
As a divisional post, Place said its obvious by the many transformations, renovations, additions and infrastructure that Winn is experiencing, lends to the importance and investment of the local community to the MTF.
"It's great to see that better leadership than mine has existed after I left to make this organization an even better organization then when I was here," Place said. "I look forward to coming back again and again and seeing just how extraordinary this team can work together."
Winn ACH is expected to be transitioned to DHA by Fall 2019.