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U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Coordinated with Sister Services to Move Life-Saving Equipment Across Air, Land and Sea in Support of Emergency Services in Okinawa, Japan

10 July 2024

From Isaac Savitz

Okinawa, Japan - The Military Health System (MHS) has undergone a significant transition that has aligned all the medical assets from the different services under the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) guidance.

One of the best benefits is the ability for service members to receive care seamlessly at any military medical treatment facility (MTF) run by the Navy, Air Force, or Army. Another benefit of consolidating the services is the ability to integrate and cross-level resources, which saves money and maintains a sustainable armed forces military medical system. At a recent U.S. Armed Forces Japan (USFJ) medical summit in Yokota, Japan, Admiral John C. Aquilino emphasized getting small and quick wins. It is often quite easy to get caught up in a large-scale operations and focus all your effort there, waiting for all the necessary pieces to fall into place, and that takes time. Going after quick wins can motivate and allow for immediate progress. The other key concept of this story is the power of relationships. The tenacity and perseverance of USNHO's EMS Director set the proverbial wheels in motion for a quick win.

U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa is always striving to enhance the patient experience. One way to do this is to improve their emergency services capabilities and part of that plan includes several additional ambulances. Rather than waiting for the ordering process to take place, Capt. Kathleen Cooperman organized a small task force to look for ideas to form a bridging solution until the new ambulances are procured. A team of subject matter experts (SME) including LCDR Studer (NMRTC Okinawa EMS Director), Chief Ulysses Taormina (MCIPAC Regional Fire Chief), and LT Richardson (NMRTC Okinawa Deputy Comptroller) strategically partnered with Brian Allgood Army Hospital, Marine Corps Installation Pacific (MCIPAC), and the 3D Marine Expeditionary Force and (III MEF) to secure three ambulances for immediate use to increase access to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on Okinawa.

The procurement of ambulances jointly improves the capabilities of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and DHA in transporting our most vulnerable and critically ill infant patients. As NMRTC Okinawa hosts the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), it's imperative to have these ambulances to transport infants in isolettes, safely. An isolette is a clear plastic enclosed crib that maintains a warm environment for a new baby and isolates them from germs. Ambulances have historically been challenging to appropriate due to a myriad of factors. The three ambulances procured offset a substantial cost and allow for greater maneuverability in modernizing our ambulance fleet. This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to our patients, jointness, optimization, and resource stewardship for all involved.

The U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Okinawa (USNMRTCO) supports the Defense Health Agency's U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa (USNHO) as the largest OCONUS Navy Medicine medical treatment facility and stands at the ready to respond to contingency operations to support the INDOPACOM region. It is a critical regional asset for direct care delivery, regional referrals, and medical contingency operations. The staff of USNHO understands their vital role as pre-positioned, forward-deployed naval forces within the first island chain, aligned and in support of the joint military commands and operations.

Trey Savitz, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan
Comm: 011-81-971-7024
DSN: (315) 646-7024

Story originally posted on DVIDS: U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Coordinated with Sister Services to Move Life-Saving Equipment Across Air, Land and Sea in Support of Emergency Services in Okinawa, Japan 


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