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Tidewater set to become fifth Military Health System market

Image of Military health personnel reading a medical machine. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Elaine Medley (right), assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, instructs Army Maj. Joanna Bailey and Army 1st Lt. Kristin Salcedo, both assigned to McDonald Army Health Center, in a simulated training on how to administer respiratory care in preparation to support the USNS Comfort’s deployment in the fight against COVID-19. Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and McDonald Army Health Center will both be part of the DHA’s Tidewater Market (Photo by: Army Lt. Col. Brad Cunningham, McDonald Army Health Center).

The Defense Health Agency officially established the Tidewater Market in southeast Virginia on April 19.  This is the fifth Military Health System market established to manage military medical treatment facilities as they transition to DHA.

Tidewater follows the National Capital Region, Central North Carolina, Jacksonville, and Coastal Mississippi markets, which were established in January 2020. It is the first transition since the COVID-19 national health emergency was declared.

A market is a group of MTFs in one geographic area working together with its TRICARE partners, Veterans Affairs hospitals, other federal health care organizations, private sector teaching hospitals and medical universities, as well as other health care partners. Markets operate as a system to support the sharing of patients, staff, budget, and other functions across facilities to improve readiness and the delivery and coordination of health services.

Although DOD decided early in the COVID-19 pandemic to pause transition, activities resumed in November, and a complete transition of management responsibilities for MTFs from the services to the DHA is scheduled to be completed by September 2021.

"The establishment of this market provides a true opportunity to optimize health care for our beneficiaries by focusing on outcomes and access across the Tidewater market," said Navy Rear Adm. Darin Via, Tidewater market manager. "It also allows us to work towards standardization of processes, creating an easier environment for our patients to navigate within.

Via said the ability of patients to schedule appointments across multiple facilities, and the ability of MTFs to appoint personnel and refer patients in order to meet specific demands are among the many advantages of a market model. He also said standardization of processes, policy, and monitoring efforts ultimately results in improved quality and safety.

Via foresees a smooth transition focused on mission readiness.

"Transition will have no immediate impact on patient care and will be seamless to beneficiaries," he said. "This transformation builds on our successes on the battlefield with an eye on emerging global challenges to ensure we are ready to fight tonight."

The Tidewater market includes the following military medical treatment facilities:

Navy

  • Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
  • Branch Health Clinic, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek (Boone Clinic)
  • BHC, Dam Neck Annex
  • BHC, Norfolk Naval Station (Sewells Point)
  • BHC, Norfolk Naval Shipyard
  • BHC, Chesapeake (Northwest Annex)
  • BHC, Naval Air Station Oceana
  • BHC, Yorktown (Naval Weapons Station)
  • TRICARE Prime Clinic Virginia Beach
  • TRICARE Prime Clinic Chesapeake
  • TRICARE Prime Clinic Suffolk

Army

  • McDonald Army Health Center, Fort Eustis
  • Troop Medical Clinic 1 (TMC1)
  • Troop Medical Clinic 2 (TMC2)
  • Fort Story Army Health Clinic
  • Community-Based Medical Home Williamsburg

Air Force

  • USAF Hospital Langley Air Force Base (633 MDG)

"Establishment of the Tidewater market is a big step forward for the Military Health System, and for our patients," said Dr. Barclay Butler, DHA's assistant director for Management.

Butler reiterated that the pandemic has served to highlight the benefit of a market model, which ultimately results in higher quality care for MTF recipients.

"The market construct lets military medical treatment facilities coordinate locally to share patients, staff, and resources to improve care, patient access, and readiness activities," said Butler. "The global COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the value of the market construct, giving our MTFs expanded flexibility and capability to adjust to local conditions in response to a crisis, while giving MHS patients a standard, high-quality experience across the whole enterprise."

The complete transition of MTFs to the DHA includes 19 direct reporting markets within the U.S., 18 small markets and many stand-alone MTFs across the country that will report to a Small Market and Stand Alone Organization, and two overseas Defense Health Regions.

The Military Health System remains committed to the congressionally-directed goal of transitioning all MTFs to DHA authority, direction, and control by Sept. 30, 2021.

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