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NEWS | May 30, 2019

Tidewater transitions to Defense Health Agency

By Senior Airman Tristan Biese 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, Defense Health Agency director, visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, May 29, 2019, to discuss changes for the military hospitals and clinics across the country.

As part of the Military Health System’s transformation starting Oct. 1, 2019, the Defense Health Agency is assuming control of all Tidewater-area military hospitals and clinics including Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, McDonald Army Health Center and the U.S. Air Force Langley Hospital at JBLE.

“We’ve been running our health care systems as separate health care systems and while that’s been effective, what we’re recognizing is that it’s not something that we can sustain.” said Bono. “Because we were operating independently of each other, we tended to make decisions that added to the cost of care or the duplication of equipment in our services. So [with this transformation] we are really trying to optimize the level of care we have with our existing resources.”

During a town hall here, Bono spoke to patients and personnel from the Langley Hospital about how this transition will present opportunities for greater leadership and standardization of processes for medical departments across the services.

“We aren’t necessarily trying to fix anything but what we are trying to do is to make our healthcare system the very best healthcare system,” said Bono. “We want to make sure that any decision that we make here about Langley still manages to support what our patients need.”

Not only is the transition meant to standardize processes across medical facilities, but also to promote collaboration across the services.

“When Army, Air Force and Navy medicine deploy together we noticed when we were on the battlefield is that we worked extremely well together,” said Bono. “When we work together across Army, Air Force and Navy, we’re sharing all of the lessons and elevating our performance collectively. So what we’d like to do is to bring what we learned on the battlefield back home to our military treatment facilities here in Tidewater and across the United States.”

According to Bono, this transformation should have little or no effect on patients and their experience of care. However, over time the transformation will provide better integration and standardization of care.

“Not only do we want to make sure that our patients are taken care of and that they receive a high level of care,” said Bono. “We also want to make sure that our operational forces know that we are going to be right there with them to make sure that they are as ready as possible for when our nation needs them.”