FORT BENNING, GA – Defense Health Agency (DHA) Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place formally marked the establishment of the Southwest Georgia Market in a flag ceremony at Martin Army Community Hospital (BMACH) on November 2. It was a critical milestone in a once-in-a-generation Military Health System (MHS) reform effort to improve force readiness and health care services to warfighters, retirees and military families.
“This constellation of military and medical responsibilities is what makes our work interesting, hard and meaningful,” said Place. “This is why we standardize. This is why we integrate our health services – to improve the care we provide and to be prepared to provide it in combat.”
The Southwest Georgia Market will enable greater collaboration across military hospitals and clinics in the Fort Benning footprint to strengthen the medical readiness of service members and enable these facilities to deliver better care and a better patient experience.
“As our beneficiaries seek care through the community, they’ll see more and more common processes, a common health record and a simplified means to access care; whether that’s on a military installation or somewhere in the community,” explained Place. “The medical leaders here will make that happen. And the Defense Health Agency, as an entity, is here to support you at Fort Benning.”
The Southwest Georgia Market serves more than 75,000 beneficiaries encompassing Martin Army Community Hospital, 21 subordinate clinics and more than 40 specialty services. On an average day, the market treats about 3,200 patients.
“Our team has worked and will continue to work diligently as we do our part to transform military healthcare,” said BMACH Commander Col. Kevin Kelly, now the Southwest Georgia Market Director. “We are excited for our future as a part of the DHA team. Elevating clinical practices, management systems and technology through standardization across the military health system will strengthen the medical readiness of our service members, the readiness of our medical personnel and enable our staff to deliver the highest quality health care to our valued patients. These patients deserve the best.”
The MHS is transitioning administration, direction and management of all military hospitals and clinics from the military departments to the DHA. To do so effectively, the DHA chose a "market approach," based on the six enhanced Multi-Service Markets already in place. A market is a group of hospitals and clinics in one geographic area working together with its TRICARE partners, Veterans Affairs hospitals and other health care partners both federal and private. They operate as a system, sharing patients, staff, budget and other functions to improve readiness, delivery and coordination of health services.
These changes are designed to increase overall access to care for beneficiaries as well as improve coordination, standardization and best practices across the Military Health System.
“My interest in the health and wellness of our force and our families isn’t merely because I’m Director of the Defense Health Agency or an Army surgeon,” said Place. “[My] commitment to continually improve the military health system is quite personal as an officer and as a physician. I’m also a husband, a father, a grandfather to a large and still growing family who rely on military medicine to keep every single one of them healthy.”