Fort Polk, LA –
FORT POLK, La. — Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director, Defense Health Agency, discussed the upcoming transition to the Military Health System with Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital leadership, Soldiers and employees at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana June 24.
DHA was established in 2013 to provide a host of shared health services across the MHS and BJACH will transition within the next 30 days.
“Cost, quality and access are the reasons we are changing to the military health care system,” Place said. “Health care has gotten increasingly more complex. In small community hospitals or outpatient clinics complexity is moderate but if you think about our largest medical centers and our multi-service markets with large hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, outpatient clinics, and our civilian partner facilities; making it all work together is complicated. The purpose of it is to support the readiness of the force and the readiness of the medical force.”
Congress directed DHA to assume responsibility for the administration and management of health care at all military medical treatment facilities from the Army, Navy and Air Force on Oct. 1, 2018. According to the DHA this is a once in a generation reform effort to improve force readiness and improve health care services to war-fighters, retirees and military families through standardization across all military departments.
“We are focusing on those service members who are protecting our freedom and that’s the purpose of the military health care system,” Place said. “The number one priority of the Defense Health Agency is to produce great outcomes for our service members. Whatever we learn to create those great outcomes for our military personnel can be applied to our Families and retirees.”
Military hospitals and clinics exist to keep combat forces ready to go to war, and to sustain the readiness, the currency and competency of medical personnel to support wartime requirements.
“Are you ready to do the job when you need to do it? How does our work inside our MTFs continue to keep us ready to do those tasks,” he asked. “The military health benefit is a huge factor in retention. Understanding what that means to those we serve is very important. Our military health system is an extraordinarily powerful health system and in many cases the best in the world.”
Place discussed the transition with Soldiers and civilian employees assigned to the hospital. He assured them there would be no reduction in staff as markets stand up and recognized the civilian workforce as a valued asset, with important knowledge and skills critical to the MHS enterprise. The biggest change he noted was that upon transfer to DHA, BJACH staff members will become Department of Defense employees and be issued new common access cards.
Several employees at BJACH asked for clarification on the market transition and what that means. According to Place, a market is a group of MTFs in one geographic area working together with its TRICARE, Veterans Affairs hospital, other federal health care organizations, private teaching hospitals, medical universities and other health care partners.
The DHA has established a market-based structure to manage the hospitals and clinics. Each market will provide shared administrative services, responsible for generating medical readiness of active duty service members and ensure the readiness of medical personnel. BJACH will be part of DHA’s Small Market and Stand-Alone MTF Organization, also called the SSO. SSO MTFs are centered on inpatient community hospitals, focused on providing ambulatory and some specialty and inpatient care across their regions.
Place ended his session with BJACH healthcare professionals and support staff by thanking everyone.
“Thanks for taking care of me and my family for the past 35 years,” he said. “Whether it’s me or mine, or one of the other 2.2 million service members in uniform; active, reserve or National Guard or our 9.6 million beneficiaries. Thank you sincerely for choosing this profession and putting your patients first.”
Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Military Health System Transformation, the market structure or infrastructure or manpower changes please visit: https://health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/MHS-Transformation