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Tri-Service surgeons perform the first surgeries at new hospital

The Army, Navy and Air Force surgeons and physician assistant met with the hospital command team. (Left to right) Army Col. Alfonso Alarcon, orthopedic surgeon at BDAACH; Army Maj. Harry Aubin, general surgeon at BDAACH; Army Command Sgt. Maj. Nicole Haines, the hospital senior enlisted advisor; Air Force Capt. Christopher Ng, Air Force general surgeon with 51st MDG; Army Maj. Eric de la Cruz, chief of general surgery at BDAACH; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Paul Lewis and Lt. Cmdr. Dan Sanford, general surgeons with 3rd Medical Battalion; Army Maj. John Fletcher, general surgeon at BDAACH; Army Col. Andrew L. Landers, hospital commander, and Air Force Capt. Steven Maya, physician assistant with 51st MDG. (U.S. Army photo by Inkyeong Yun) The Army, Navy and Air Force surgeons and physician assistant met with the hospital command team. (Left to right) Army Col. Alfonso Alarcon, orthopedic surgeon at BDAACH; Army Maj. Harry Aubin, general surgeon at BDAACH; Army Command Sgt. Maj. Nicole Haines, the hospital senior enlisted advisor; Air Force Capt. Christopher Ng, Air Force general surgeon with 51st MDG; Army Maj. Eric de la Cruz, chief of general surgery at BDAACH; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Paul Lewis and Lt. Cmdr. Dan Sanford, general surgeons with 3rd Medical Battalion; Army Maj. John Fletcher, general surgeon at BDAACH; Army Col. Andrew L. Landers, hospital commander, and Air Force Capt. Steven Maya, physician assistant with 51st MDG. (U.S. Army photo by Inkyeong Yun)

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U.S. ARMY GARRISON HUMPHREYS, PYEONGTAEK, SOUTH KOREA — Six military general surgeons (three Army, two Navy, and one Air Force) and an Air Force physician assistant performed surgeries together on the opening day of Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital (BDAACH) and Ambulatory Care Center on 15 November, 2019. They experienced the cutting-edge surgical systems in the state-of-the-art facility, which has bigger, more spacious operating rooms. This event showcased the solid network and collaboration that has been cultivated amongst the tri-service general surgeons on the Korean Peninsula to enhance the readiness of the U.S. military in the Pacific region.

The tri-service medical providers gathered in one of the operating rooms early in the morning for a huddle. General surgery had the honor of performing the first surgery in the new OR. The three Army general surgeons assigned each of the surgeons from the other services to assist with their surgeries throughout the day.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Sanford and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Paul Lewis, general surgeons assigned to 3rd Medical Battalion, Okinawa, Japan, shared their impressions on the new facility after the huddle. Sanford expressed how impressed he was with the big OR space which helps maneuvering during procedures more safe and efficient. Lewis and Sanford praised the cutting-edge system with built-in cameras that allows for monitoring of the OR.

"This new facility looks wonderful and everything is state-of-the-art, big space to work in the operating room. I am looking forward to participating in the first day at the new facility" said Sanford. "I heard this new facility will have the Da Vinci Robotic Surgical system and I think it is wonderful to have such high-tech capability oversees. This is the only facility in the pacific that will have this capability."

"It's encouraging for us from a surgical standpoint. I was amazed by the high-tech systems, but also working with these skilled Army and Air Force surgeons and a Physician Assistant will make this experience unforgettable. Regardless of the service, in the operating room, we work as one team," said Lewis. "This is a significant event especially with the Defense Health Agency conversion."

Air Force Capt. Steven Maya, physician's assistant, Osan Air Base, shared that he felt fortunate to be able to see this facility open while he was stationed in Korea. When BDAACH was going through the transition, as their Air Force counterpart, Air Force medical staff supported BDAACH taking care of the patients. This gave them a chance to assist Army surgeons on several surgical cases.

"Today we got to work together in this nice and exceedingly modern facility with not only Army surgeons, but also Navy surgeons. It is a very unique experience and I feel very fortunate for that," said Maya. "The collaboration has been great. We have built the strong partnership which helped us be just a phone call away from each other. We would love to come back here more often to work together."

Maya mentioned that he is looking forward to be able to utilize capabilities at BDAACH that are currently not available at the Osan medical facility such as the Intensive Care Unit which can be used for more complicated post-operative care and management.

As the largest medical asset on U.S. Army Garrison Camp Humphreys, BDAACH will become a hub for medical care on the Korean peninsula. The opening of this medical facility allows for the best care possible to be provided for all U.S. military service members and beneficiaries in Korea.

Air Force Capt. Christopher Ng, general surgeon at Osan Air Base, also shared his anticipation for being able to handle higher complexity cases at BDAACH.

"I feel very honored and grateful to be part of BDAACH's inaugural day. The sheer size and vast capabilities of this hospital will allow for additional avenues to provide the best possible care for our patients, especially those who will need more intervention and monitoring" said Ng.

"During the BDAACH migration and while Osan's OR was down for repair, the Army surgeons and I would collaborate and share patients, helping to ensure top readiness of the service members and their families on the Korean peninsula. Now we will be that much more able to do so."

Army Maj. John Fletcher, general surgeon at BDAACH, mentioned how great the opportunity was for these tri-service surgeons to be the first surgeons to experience utilizing the operating rooms in this state-of-the-art medical facility.

"This was a great opportunity for us as the general surgery department as well as the Korean peninsula as a whole" said Fletcher. "It's a real historic milestone for the Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital, USFK and the Pacific region."

Army Maj. Eric de la Cruz, chief of general surgery, thanked the Hospital commander for their support for the tri-service OR day. "It was a greater honor to participate in the first ever surgery held here at BDAACH and to commemorate the entire day by sharing it with our counterparts in the Navy and Air Force. With the DHA now in place, I imagine we will continue to work together more in the future to care for our beneficiaries, to ensure the readiness of our forces, and to be ready if called upon in wartime."

The new BDAACH opened its door to more than 65,000 eligible beneficiaries in Korea. The facility is medically equipped to support eligible beneficiaries and 5,000 inpatient admissions. BDAACH has expanded from its previous 38-bed set-up to 68 total inpatient beds consisting of six intensive care unit beds, 40 medical/surgical units, four operating rooms, eight labor and delivery beds and 14 behavioral health beds.

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