Back to Top Skip to main content

Keesler Medical Center sees efficiencies, improved care under Defense Health Agency

Air Force Col. Michelle Aastrom, 81st Inpatient Operation Squadron commander, discusses the intensive care unit capabilities with Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency, director for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate and Transition Intermediate Management Organization, during an immersion tour inside the Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Feb. 13, 2019. The purpose of Place's two-day visit was to become more familiar with the medical center's mission capabilities and to receive the status of the 81st Medical Group's transition under DHA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue) Air Force Col. Michelle Aastrom, 81st Inpatient Operation Squadron commander, discusses the intensive care unit capabilities with Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency, director for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate and Transition Intermediate Management Organization, during an immersion tour inside the Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Feb. 13, 2019. The purpose of Place's two-day visit was to become more familiar with the medical center's mission capabilities and to receive the status of the 81st Medical Group's transition under DHA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | MHS Transformation

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Army Maj. Gen. Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency (DHA), Director for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate, visited Keesler Medical Center Feb 12-13.

This was his second visit to Keesler since the medical center’s transition under DHA. On Oct.1, 2018, Keesler was selected as the first Air Force medical center to transition to the DHA helping pave the way for the remainder of DoD medical treatment facilities making their transitions in the near future.

During the general’s visit, he was orientated to the Keesler Air Force Base training mission in addition to the operations of Keesler Medical Center. He met with Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, and Air Force Col. Debra A. Lovette, 81st Training Wing Commander. He also met with the Airmen to discuss daily operations and participated in a town hall style meeting. Finally, he met with Air Force Col. Beatrice Dolihite, Keesler Medical Center director and her medical team to discuss the future of military healthcare.

Place’s visit reemphasized the importance of Keesler working hand-in-hand with DHA to improve the delivery of healthcare to beneficiaries along the Gulf Coast. The DoD’s transition from service-run hospitals to the DHA was mandated by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which detailed administrative reform for medical treatment facilities across the DoD.

Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency, director for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate and Transition Intermediate Management Organization, discusses the benefits of the critical care air transport team simulation lab created to train for real world scenarios with U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicole Richards, 81st Medical Operations Squadron CCATT NCO in charge, and Capt. Thomas Ross, 81st Inpatient Operation Squadron officer in charge, during an immersion tour inside the Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency, director for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate and Transition Intermediate Management Organization, discusses the benefits of the critical care air transport team simulation lab created to train for real world scenarios with U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicole Richards, 81st Medical Operations Squadron CCATT NCO in charge, and Capt. Thomas Ross, 81st Inpatient Operation Squadron officer in charge, during an immersion tour inside the Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

“The intent of the change was to standardize administrative practices, create efficiencies, save money and ultimately improve patient outcomes,” said Air Force Col. Gregory Papke, Keesler Medical Center administrator. “This is by far the largest transformation we have seen in military healthcare.”

Shortly after taking command in June 2018, Dolihite and her team began tackling the DHA transition.

“It’s a significant organizational change,” said Dolihite. “One of the things we learned at the top of our organization was that we needed more administrative assistance. In the beginning, it’s very much like running two big organizations at the same time.”

With no true blueprint to work with, the Keesler Medical Center team had to build new processes from the ground up to communicate with Air Force leadership and DHA leadership as well. They needed two task management systems -- one to talk to the Air Force and one to talk to DHA. They also had to identify personnel to manage the new processes, which in some cases meant giving staff additional responsibilities. Dolihite explained that all Air Force MTFs would have to consider similar manning adjustments as they transition.

“From a clinical operations standpoint, most of the DHA procedural instructions are similar to Air Force instructions,” said Dolihite. “However, on the business administration side, they are very different. DHA uses different financial, manpower, tasking and communication processes. There is a continual need to learn how the three services communicate and understand the many different acronyms specific to each service. We are diligently providing feedback to shape these processes to ensure standardization.”

Since transitioning in October 2018, the medical center has already seen benefits. Recently, the labor and delivery unit experienced a manning shortage. The leadership team forwarded their concerns to DHA and received a quick response.

“Keesler was the first to request a manning assist,” said Dolihite, “and that was a new process that had to be created, which we helped build with [the Transitional Intermediate Management Organization] and DHA.”

The labor and delivery unit now has an Air Force, Army and Navy nurse, all from sister-service hospitals, working to deliver babies for Keesler families.

“This prevented us from having to send patients to local hospitals for [obstetrics] care,” said Dolihite.

DHA policy has also provided greater access to Keesler’s beneficiaries. For example, many outpatient services were open to patients on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. More than 300 beneficiaries were able to access care on those days, said Papke.

With any change there will always be critics or skeptics, and this transition is no different. Large organizational change is hard and takes time, said Dolihite. There are some concerned that DHA will not be able to balance the readiness mission with the delivery of the benefit. Thus far, DHA has been supportive of Keesler medics using specific days to focus on readiness training and deployment requirements. DHA’s focus on readiness was evident during Place’s visit to Keesler. During his immersion at the Keesler Medical Center, he highlighted the need to keep medics deployment ready.

“DHA has been supportive when our personnel have been tasked to support a deployment or a training exercise,” said Dolihite.

Even in the midst of the transition, the Keesler Medical Center team is positive about the future of healthcare in the DoD.

“We’re honored and excited to be a part of this transition to DHA,” said Dolihite. “We look forward to the opportunity to transform military healthcare into a more integrated system which will lead to consistent, high-quality healthcare experiences for our patients.”

Lovette echoed Dolihite’s comments and reaffirmed that Keesler Air Force Base will lead by example with the transition.

"Our amazing Keesler Medical Center team has a reputation in the Air Force as an innovative organization,” said Lovette. “First in robotic surgery in DoD and now the only training platform for robotics in the DoD. This professional team was also the first to use leadless pacemakers, groundbreaking work in the medical field.

Excellence at Keesler Medical Center will continue, making this location well suited to lead the Air Force Medical System in this historic transition to DHA. We are committed to partnering with DHA to optimize resources and provide support to ensure a smooth transition for the installation, our personnel and our beneficiaries."

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

Army, FDA discuss 3D printing at workshop

Article
1/21/2020
When a medical device breaks down on a medical unit deployed to a remote part of the world, the closest repair parts could be thousands of miles away (U.S. Army photo by Francis S. Trachta)

Army medical logisticians are looking to 3D printing as a potential solution to this challenge

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Technology | Combat Support | Medical Logistics

MHS Minute January 2020

Video
1/21/2020
MHS Minute January 2020

Thanks for tuning in to the *NEW* MHS Minute! Check back each month to learn about more exciting events and achievements by organizations and partners across the Military Health System!

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | TRICARE Health Program

Transition spotlight: Air Force Medical Service, part 2

Article
1/16/2020
Air Force Maj. Nicole Ward (left) and Air Force Capt. Matthew Muncey, program managers with the Air Force Medical Service Transition Cell, pose for a photo at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Mahler)

Two officers speak about standing up DHA’s new capabilities to manage MTFs, ensuring the process is as smooth as possible for personnel and patients

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

DHA director visits Colorado, discusses medical transition

Article
1/15/2020
Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place speaks to Evans Army Community Hospital leaders at BK George Hall about the Military Health System transformation. Place visited military medical teams at Peterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Buckley Air Force Base, which also encompass the Colorado Springs Military Health System. (Photo by Jeanine Mezei)

Colorado Springs currently exists in an enhanced multi-service market

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

Transition spotlight: Air Force Medical Service

Article
1/13/2020
Air Force Maj. Nicole Ward, left, and Capt. Matthew Muncey, program managers with the Air Force Medical Service Transition Cell, at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, Jan. 9, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Mahler)

Two Airmen deeply are involved with the process of standing up DHA’s new capabilities to manage MTFs

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

U.S. Transportation Command: DoD’s manager for global patient movement

Article
1/9/2020
An ambulance bus backs up to the Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III as Airmen prepare to unload patients at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The bus transports the ill and/or injured to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. JBA and Travis Air Force Base, California, serve as the primary military entry points or hubs for patient distribution within the continental United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karina Luis)

On a weekly basis, USTRANSCOM moves up to 40 patients from overseas to CONUS

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Navy Medicine demonstrates Virtual Health options to Africa

Article
1/6/2020
Air Force Staff Sgt. Danny Lim practices conducting a throat examination on Army Sgt. Harvey Drayton at Chabelley Airfield, Djibouti. Drayton and Lim were introduced to the Telehealth In A Bag system during a recent visit that included personnel from Regional Health Command Europe's virtual health team. (U.S. Army photo by Russell Toof)

Djibouti hosts the largest U.S. American military base on the African continent

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Achievements in 2019 provide strong foundation for year ahead

Article
12/23/2019
A Year in Review: Year of Military Health 2019

Dedication, commitment to mission praised as changes continue

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | MHS GENESIS | Research and Innovation | Preventive Health | MHS Transformation

DHA PI 6025.10: Change 1: Standard Processes, Guidelines, and Responsibilities of the DoD Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities in the Military Health System (MHS) Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs)

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance of References (e) through (t), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures to begin standard processes and guidelines for the Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, Reference (e)), in MTFs.

Air Force, Army medics save groom

Article
12/19/2019
Airmen from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron simulate life-saving procedures to a training manikin onboard a KC-135 Stratotanker during an exercise out of Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th AES maintains a forward operating presence, and was instrumental in saving an Airman’s life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Seefeldt)

NCO’s first aeromedical evacuation mission was definitely challenging

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Payne visits service members, facilities in Puget Sound

Article
12/18/2019
Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, assistant director for Combat Support, Defense Health Agency, speaks with service members and staff at Madigan Army Medical Center during a town hall in Letterman Auditorium. Payne visited Madigan as the final stop of his tour of the Pacific Northwest military treatment facilities, also including the Air Force’s 62nd Medical Squadron, Naval Hospital Bremerton and Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor. He conducted town halls at each location, focusing on MHS transformation, and answering questions from the audience on topics ranging from MHS GENESIS, readiness and training, and the future of military medicine. (U.S. Army photo by Ryan Graham)

Effective combat power depends on military health’s ability to build a medically ready force

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics | MHS GENESIS

DHA transition discussion hosted at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Article
12/12/2019
Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee E. Payne, Assistant Director for Combat Support Agency, Defense Health Agency explained to Naval Hospital Bremerton staff members during a Town Hall meeting there are four overlapping areas of focus for DHA which are great outcomes, ready medical force, satisfied patients, and fulfilled staff, all contributing to the goal of having a medically ready force and a ready medical force.

The most important outcome for us is a medically ready force

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Changes to military health care system aimed at readiness

Article
12/6/2019
Speaking before the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel during a Dec. 5 hearing on Capitol Hill, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffrey (left), Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place (second from left), director of the DHA, the service Surgeons General, and Joint Staff Surgeon outlined the necessity for the health care system to change in order to support warfighter readiness. (MHS photo)

Merger of all hospitals and clinics to DHA a key step

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Keesler renovates cardiac cath lab to provide better, safer care

Article
12/5/2019
Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Slaven (right), 81st Medical Operations Squadron cardiopulmonary technician, briefs 81st Medical Group staff and guests on cath lab capabilities during the cardiac catheterization laboratory ribbon cutting ceremony inside Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The lab was upgraded with an entire suite of technology to provide better and safer care for patients and the surgical team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov)

The clinic also has a joint DoD – VA partnership

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Military hospital transformation – introducing the market construct

Article
12/5/2019
Barclay Butler, Ph.D., MBA, assistant director of management at DHA, explains the market concept to an audience of active-duty and civilian conference attendees at the 2019 AMSUS Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, Dec. 4. (Photo by MHS Communications)

Markets will manage hospital and clinic needs within a geographic region

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | MHS Transformation
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 9

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.