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DHA director visits Colorado, discusses medical transition

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) 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)

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FORT CARSON, Colo. — Evans Army Community Hospital (EACH) hosted an informative visit Dec. 12 with Defense Health Agency (DHA) Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place about the transformation elements happening in the military health system.

Ready to engage with leaders throughout the campus, Place held a town hall meeting with Soldiers, Airmen and civilians who ensure EACH keeps the medical mission running efficiently every day.

“My goal is to spend a significant amount of my time with the leaders and staff of our facilities to be able to help them by making strategic decisions that better enable the quality of care, the delivery of care – where it matters the most – which is here at our military bases and not in D.C.,” said Place.

Place oversees all aspects of military medicine in his role as the DHA director, which includes the readiness and training of medical Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors, to ensure a ready medical force for our warfighters, their Families and veterans.

On Oct. 1, 2019, all military medical treatment facilities throughout the U.S. and across all branches of the military were joined under the DHA. This milestone was put into motion by the Defense Authorization Act of 2017.

“Colorado Springs currently exists in an enhanced multi-service market (eMSM), which is an administrative collaboration between medical units of the Air Force and the Army,” said Place. “My responsibility as the director of the DHA is to further that collaboration and get to interoperability of all the health care units in the area.”

In the local area, the Colorado Springs Military Health System (CSMHS) includes EACH at Fort Carson, the 10th Medical Group at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the 21st Medical Group at both Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases, and 460th Medical Group at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.

“My goal is to learn what is unique here as we standardize this system – what things need to stay unique in a particular location and how we balance those things to gain more effectiveness of our health care delivery teams,” Place said.

The CSMHS is unique since it was one of the first eMSMs to stand up in 2014. This has helped grow the relationships between local Army and Air Force medical leadership to help make health care more accessible and improve training opportunities for medical staff.

As the CSMHS continues to lead the way in integrated military medical care, other military health markets throughout the country are in the process of connecting service elements together to improve readiness, provide improved care and lower overall costs.

With change occurring in the military health system, Place said he understands beneficiaries feeling anxious about how transformation will affect their care, but he is confident it will continue to improve just as advances in medicine frequently advance health care.

“We are dedicated to continuing to improve the system for (patients), that’s who we think about when we make decisions,” said Place. “It isn’t about money, it’s about the readiness of our staff, it’s about the readiness of the service members we support, it’s about improving our system – that’s what this is about.”

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