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DHA Director and Senior Enlisted Leader visit Branch Health Clinic Everett

Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place viewing a drive-through pharmacy Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency (DHA) director, receives a summary from Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Robert Mata on Branch Health Clinic Everett's drive through pharmacy option. The outdoor service was implemented during the current on-going pandemic outbreak as a strategy to limit the amount of foot-traffic into the clinic, assist with the overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic by helping to reduce the spread of the virus and better protect the health and well-being of patients and staff.

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There was energy, ingenuity, and initiative on display at Naval Hospital Bremerton’s (NHB) Branch Health Clinic Everett as Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency (DHA) director toured the facility and met with staff.

The familiarization visit gave Place and DHA senior enlisted leader, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg the opportunity to meet and greet with the staff, and discuss health care delivery and challenges during the ongoing pandemic outbreak.

As director of the DHA, Place leads a joint, integrated combat support agency which direct supports Army, Navy and Air Force medical service providing a medically ready force and ready medical force to combatant commands in peace and war. “We support the services. That’s what we do. That’s our job. As leaders, part of our job is to look at the issues today and tomorrow and mitigate those. We are aware there are challenges. We’re always looking and asking, ‘is there a better way to do this?’” explained Place.

NHB, along with Branch Health Clinics Bangor, Everett and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard transitioned administration and management oversight to DHA in the fall of 2019.  

Gragg viewing drive-through pharmacy
DHA senior enlisted leader, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg extends a greeting to Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Robert Mata, assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton's Branch Health Clinic Everett during a visit to the command with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director.

Three of the clinic’s staff members – Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steven M. Hill, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jefferson Green, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alyssa J. Maple – were recognized by Place and Gragg for notable individual achievements.

“One of the hidden benefits of being assigned to a small clinic is the true leadership responsibilities that even relatively junior enlisted and officer can and do perform and make such a positive difference,” Place stated.

Maple was recognized for her work after being hand-selected to represent the clinic in the Puget Sound Population Health working group, handling the duties of implementing the DHA Disease Management program. Maple trained 20 staff members about the program’s resources and coordinated care for at-risk patients enrolled in the program. She was integral in communicating with 2,000 beneficiaries using the DoD’s electronic health record, MHS GENESIS Patient Portal, to help manage their condition and explain resources during COVID-19.

“I’m a general surgeon by trade. I see patients after something has happened. It’s the smart people in Population Health who convince our patients (to modify behaviors) before something happens,” commented Place.

As a physical therapy technician, Green was recognized for standardizing physical therapy outcomes by converting 12 DHA approved tri-service post-operative protocols into a new, editable format with comprehensive auto-text templates in MHS GENESIS, thus reducing documentation time. “We don’t need cookie-cutter medicine, but we can standardize best practices and remove administrative hurdles,” noted Place.

Hill was acknowledged for leading the clinic’s COVID-19 medical response in support of Naval Station Everett. He developed a process of regular status checks and infection control protocols that supported the needs of 150 quarantined and isolated Sailors, including the medical oversight of a COVID-19 positive patient which ensured a full recovery. On top of that, he lead a multidisciplinary team which improved operational readiness by reducing the length of Medical Board status for Sailors, and collaborated with regional partners for home sleep study units cutting down on travel, cost and time for active duty service members.

“When I read Lieutenant Commander Hill’s write-up, my first thought was the old saying, ‘if you want something done, find the busiest person you know and have them do it, because you know it’ll get done,’” stated Place. “And Hill’s mentoring and advising to line leaders during COVID-19 is the type of expertise that can’t be thanked for enough.”

BHC Everett staff continue to focus on helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 by protecting military and civilian personnel and their families, safeguarding national security capabilities and supporting whole-of-nation response.

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