WASHINGTON, July 7, 2014 – The first of seven site visits of the Military Health System review was launched today at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on May 27 ordered a comprehensive, 90-day review of the Military Health System to examine access to care, and assess the safety and quality of health care in military treatment facilities and DOD-purchased health care from civilian providers, officials said.
The secretary based the need for the review on efforts to continually review and improve military health care.
The review also comes on the heels of media coverage of several high-profile cases, such as the investigations into access to care at Veterans Affairs medical centers and clinics, and reports of unanticipated deaths at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which resulted in the hospital commander’s firing, as previously reported.
Kirby said DOD has “identified seven military treatment facilities” that will participate in the site visits of this review. In addition to Naval Medical Center San Diego, they are: Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; the Air Force Academy Cadet Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart, Georgia; Royal Air Force Lakenheath Hospital, 48th Medical Group, Suffolk, England; Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
The review team sought a diverse survey by branch of service, geography, medical facility size in terms of select access, quality, and safety performance measures, which was a “deliberate decision,” Kirby said.
“If the review calls for other site visits, we’ll certainly look into that,” he added. “Site visit teams will consist of more than 20 health care professionals to include some flag and general officers.”
The teams will meet with facility staff to assess the quality of care, access to care and safety at each of these facilities, Kirby said.
The review team also will conduct two town hall sessions to solicit feedback, Kirby added, one for faculty and staff and one for beneficiaries.
“Following the review, the secretary will receive recommendations on areas for improvement,” the admiral said, “with a specific focus on those areas where we are not meeting a nationally defined standard or a DOD policy-directed standard.”
The Military Health System provides health care for more than 9.6 million beneficiaries, including active-duty service members, retirees and eligible family members.