TWENTYNINE PALMS, California (NNS) -- Embrace change, said Vice Admiral C. Forrest Faison, III, U.S. Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, during his June 26 visit to Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms (NHTP).
“Medicine is all about change,” Faison said. “We are in a profession that by its very nature changes, either from the type of care that we deliver, how we care for our patients, where we go to do that care, how we support our military -- we are in a profession of change.”
VFaison was on deck to meet with hospital leadership and to talk to individual corpsmen and Sailors. After arriving by CH 53 Sea Stallion helicopter, Vice Adm. Faison met with the NHTP Executive Steering Committee, where he offered a synopsis of the brief he would deliver during Admiral’s Call. The Navy Surgeon General was accompanied by Force Master Chief Hosea Smith Jr. They toured the Adult Medical Care Clinic, an NHTP clinic that serves as the Combat Center’s first line of medical treatment for active-duty Marines. They chatted with individual corpsmen, asking about future plans and offering career advice.
The Navy Surgeon General and Force Master Chief then dined with 20 Navy corpsmen in the Marine Corps’ Dunham Hall dining facility where Sailors were able to ask questions, voice concerns and gain Vice Adm. Faison’s perspective. Vice Adm. Faison then met in a closed-door session with NHTP’s two ombudsmen after which he held an Admiral’s Call for the command.
“Great change provides great opportunity,” Faison told the Sailors in the Admiral’s Call. “Our strategy is to navigate all of this change and not break anything in a system that has delivered unprecedented combat survival.” The Vice Admiral advised those in attendance to “realize opportunity, keep faith with our patients, keep faith with our staff and get ready for the next conflict.”
During the Admiral’s call, Vice Adm. Faison requested that everyone take out their cell phone and display a picture of a loved one. He then asked each individual to explain to their seat mate why that person was loved. “Here’s what I want you to remember,” Faison said. “Every person you will ever care for, every person you will ever come in contact with as a leader, everyone you have the privilege of leading, is a picture on someone else’s smart phone. Treat them, as you would have your loved ones treated and you will be worthy of the trust that has been imparted to you.”
Faison was gracious enough to spend a few minutes with this reporter for a short question and answer session:
Question: Sir, what in your view is the future of Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms?
Vice Adm. Faison: The future is bright for NHTP. There will always be a need for medical care here as long as the Marines are here. We are committed to providing that care. As military medicine changes, there are opportunities to assess the specialties we’re providing here, and to examine how and why we send people out of network. We have the opportunity to start beefing up and assessing the medical capabilities we provide at Twentynine Palms and at other remote areas. So I think the future is here very bright.
Question: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your career?
Vice Adm. Faison: It’s been the privilege and honor of a lifetime to have served in this capacity and to lead the amazing 63,000 men and women who make me proud every day. My greatest sense of satisfaction is two areas: Number one is setting Navy Medicine down a path that will allow us to continue to do what we have done well for over 200 years; honor the trust to provide the best care our nation can offer to those who volunteer and sacrifice to defend our freedom, and to return them home safely.
The second area is to honor the most important person on the medical team, the hospital corpsman. I take a great pride in the changes that we’ve made in the training and preparation of Navy corpsmen. We have set them up for success. We’ve given them skills that will help them get jobs, help them to be contributing members of to the community, help them with their education, and hopefully one day take our place.
Question: What advice would you offer to Navy medical personnel who are concerned by the amount of change in the near future?
Vice Adm. Faison: I would remind them that medicine is all about change. The old ways of doing things, the way we’ve always done it is not going to get us to success. We have to look at new opportunities. So I tell them, don’t be fearful, be optimistic; because there’s opportunity. Just hang with us as we work out the details.
Question: What plans so you have upon retirement?
Vice Adm. Faison: I have been gratified beyond words to serve. As I look at American healthcare and I look at, especially medical education, we have some huge challenges facing us as a nation. I’m looking to get involved in a leadership position in medical education. As America, which spends more than any other country in the world on healthcare, begins to deal with the challenges that it’s facing, both with delivering healthcare and educating the next generation of healthcare providers, I’m looking forward to being part of the solution.
As I come to the end of my 39-year career of military service, it’s been the honor of a lifetime. I tell our young corpsmen, have a purpose for your life. My purpose is to help people. From where I started in a tiny blue-collar town in Ohio so many years ago to where I am today, the Navy has given me the honor of a lifetime to touch so many lives, to help so many people, in making a difference and ultimately in being able to look back with great satisfaction and especially pride in the people that I’ve been honored to serve with.
For more news from Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms, visit www.navy.mil/local/nh29p/.