BETHESDA, Md. (Sept. 17, 2012) -- Army Col. Ramona M. Fiorey joined Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) July 5 as only the second Chief of Staff appointed to the nation's flagship military treatment facility.

"This is an honor that very few people have this position, in this place, at this time," she explained. "I'm here to serve: patients and staff."

The Georgia-native who grew up on a farm outside of Macon earned two nursing degrees and a graduate degree in Public Health. She spent 10 years as a civilian nurse and Army wife before donning the uniform herself as a Soldier in 1987.

"And I never looked back. Wish I'd done it 10 years before," said Fiorey, who credits her civilian experience for contributing to the success of her military career.

Her 25 years of service in uniform includes assignments at Bassett Army Community Hospital, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Wash.; Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii; Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky.; and Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. Most recently, she led as commanding officer of Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson, S.C. before her assignment to WRNMMC.

Fiorey called WRNMMC a window to the next generation in the evolution of military medicine. "We are looking into the face of the future of military medicine," the nurse explained. "We do miraculous care here."

With a self-described management style she called "collaborative," she cited the tremendous energy of the staff.

"There is incredible talent in this hospital," said Fiorey, who believes staff members want to continue to excel, as well as have a say in what their work environment is like. The chief of staff said the new strategic plan presented in an Aug. 28 kick-off provides workers with that opportunity.

The medical center leader, big on accountability "that starts at the top, goes all the way down, and back up again," said her goal is to ensure patients have confidence that they are getting the best care that can be given, not just in a military facility but anywhere.

"For every patient who comes here, every time when they enter the building, when they pick up the phone to make that appointment they have absolute confidence," Fiorey said. "And when they walk into this building they feel the aura that this is world-class medicine. This looks like, feels like, smells like every sense they have tells them that this is world-class medicine and every staff member thinks when they come to work every day that this is the best place in the world to work: that they would not work anywhere else."

Fiorey said the medical center has the opportunity to build upon the legacy and reputation built by both the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center before they integrated to form WRNMMC more than a year ago.

"Creating that environment where we get to the extraordinary patient experience that a world-class facility givesthe way we do that is through the staff providing that care," she said. "All of usleaders and staff: military, civilian and contracthave critical roles in making this a reality at Walter Reed Bethesda."