PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (July 13, 2022) – For Drs. Lynn Olsen and Daniel Mirski, their service at the Maj. Gen. William H. Gourley VA-DoD Outpatient Clinic’s family medicine clinic is an extension of their service as Armed Forces veterans.
Olsen spent six years as a Navy physician practicing family medicine, and Mirski retired after 20 years as a flight surgeon and emergency physician for the Air Force. Together they serve with a dedicated team of California Medical Detachment professionals at the family medicine clinic who care for members of the military community on the Monterey Peninsula.
“[Patients are] getting really top-level care, from the very first person who brings them into the room and does their vitals all the way through their visit,” said Olsen, who has repeatedly received 100% satisfaction ratings from her patients over the course of the past three years.
Both Olsen and Mirski said the military’s scholarships for medical students was what initially drew them to military service, but their love for the military community is what has kept them practicing, whether in uniform or as civilians.
Mirski said he had no idea when he started as an Air Force physician that he would serve 20 years, but he kept accepting assignment after assignment because it was fun, rewarding and he enjoyed it, so he continued.
Then, after Mirski retired, he found he missed the military community.
“It was really that camaraderie, the professionalism and friendship that the military offers,” Mirski said.
“When I was solo practice for two and a half years and I did consulting work, it was great and the money is great, but you really don’t have the camaraderie that you have in the military, and so you don’t really feel so much a part of the community. Coming back in gave me that sense of community.”
Olsen, meanwhile, said the more she learned about serving in the military as a doctor, the more excited she became about it. While on active duty she especially appreciated the training, the adventure and the ability to give back to her country.
The Maj. Gen. William H. Gourley VA-DoD Clinic, which services active duty, family members and pediatric patients, as well as local veterans, opened in August 2017, and the building continues to have a brand-new feel to it. The three-story, 146,000-gross-square-foot facility provides care for approximately 80,000 military veterans living on California’s Central Coast, and patients of the CAL MED pediatric and family medicine clinics on the third floor. It is only the second fully integrated VA-DoD facility in the nation.
The clinic is located at 201 9th St. in Marina, near the Ord Military Community, which is where many of the facility’s patients live. It is also less than a half a mile from the Pacific Ocean, and Olsen and Mirski said on clear days they can see whales breaching the water from the clinic’s windows.
In addition to its convenient and beautiful location, Olsen and Mirski said the family practice clinic offers other conveniences, such as appointments that are easy to schedule. Patients can currently schedule same-day appointments for everything from acute care needs to minor procedures—which is a significant improvement from current network access options.
“For everything that’s acute, we absolutely have appointment times,” Mirski said. “Very often I’ll have someone call me in the morning time and I’ll see them that afternoon. That is not out of the norm.”
The clinic has a lot more availability than a lot of clinics, Olsen said, and that means she and Mirski can spend more time with patients and provide better medical care.
“It’s really nice here to not have as much of a go-go-go time pressure, where you just have to get patients through,” Olsen said. “We get to take more time to get to know people and to tackle a holistic approach for them, which I really enjoy.”
In addition, Mirski said that since he and Olsen are veterans, they are familiar with the stresses of military life and that understanding helps them provide better care.
For example, Monterey is a great assignment, but it is also usually a short-term assignment with intense school work and includes the usual stressors of finding housing and a school for the children, Mirski said.
“As prior-military providers, we understand this and the strain it places on the family,” Mirski said. “We provide exceptional medical care with this in mind in order to try to ensure the [active duty] family one of the best assignments in their military careers.”
Also, with the exception of when a particular doctor is on vacation, patients see the same doctor for each visit, Mirski said.
Olsen has served about 10 years as a civilian military physician, more than four of those years at the Gourley Clinic, and Mirski has served about three at the clinic.
Olsen said she particularly likes the variety that family medicine provides.
“I like that it’s not exactly the same thing all the time,” Olsen said. “I like having kids as young as newborns all the way up to retirees. I like working with an entire spectrum of people. I like being able to have multiple people in a family be my patients, which is really nice when you get to know a whole family together.”
Mirski said he especially enjoys continuing to serve the military community. “That’s really the main thing for me, to be able to be part of this community and there’s such a wonderful DLI and NPS community here that I can help be a part of that and take care of them,” he said.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed, commander of CAL MED, said he is proud of not only the care Olsen and Mirski provide, but the entire clinic.
The clinic serves veterans, active-duty service members and families. Those who would like to become patients must be enrolled into the Army Medical Home or Pediatrics Medical Home.
For more information, visit https://calmed.tricare.mil/Clinics/Major-General-William-H-Gourley-VA-DoD-Outpatient-Clinic.