FORT BELVOIR, VIRGINIA -- Healthcare delivery at Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) will be the responsibility of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) as result of fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act beginning Oct. 1.
With this change, Womack beneficiaries will experience no change in their medical care or services. DHA, instead of U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), will have administrative control of WAMC.
Following the transition, Col. John Melton, Womack commander, will serve as the medical director managed by DHA and the service commander responsible for Soldier readiness at Fort Bragg, which remains the responsibility of MEDCOM.
According to Melton, the transition to DHA will be transparent, and the delivery of safe, quality and accessible care will continue after.
“As the Womack Commander, I will continue to integrate both readiness and health to support the Fort Bragg Senior Commander and all tenant units,” Melton said. “Readiness of the force remains our number one priority while providing excellent medical care to our entire patient population.”
The readiness mission includes dental care of active duty Soldiers, public health services, veterinary services, and providing management and support to wounded, ill and injured Soldiers assigned to its seven warrior transition units.
In less than two months, DHA will be responsible for healthcare delivery at Womack and MEDCOM, through Regional Health Command-Atlantic, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, will be accountable for Soldier medical readiness. How will the two distinct and vast organizations effectively separate and manage these two vital missions?
Originally, fiscal year 2017 NDAA required two leaders, a medical director in charge of healthcare delivery and a service commander whose priority is ensuring Soldiers are medically ready to fight and win.
To ensure that the two-leader concept was the best for the Army and more importantly Soldiers and patients, the Army held three table-top exercises, , in May and June at Defense Health Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
DHA, MEDCOM, Womack leaders and senior staff dove into multiple real-world scenarios to determine the responsibilities of each to identify issues that may hinder the transition of healthcare to DHA or impact beneficiary healthcare or Soldier readiness.
During these exercises it was determined one leader, responsible for both healthcare and readiness, will serve the Army, its Soldiers, retirees and their families the best.
This leadership recommendation and other findings were put to the test in July during a three-day rehearsal of concept at Fort Bragg.
After three-days of deliberation, participants selected the one-leader concept as the way-ahead for Womack and the other service medical facilities selected.
Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland, RHC-A commanding general, said Melton understands the importance of getting the transition of healthcare at Womack right as the lessons learned will ensure the efficient transition over the next three years of healthcare at Army medical facilities and also at Navy and Air Force facilities.
“This is a tremendous and important undertaking taking place at Womack for the Army and Army Medicine,” Crosland said, “Throughout this transition, the Womack team must continue to provide safe, quality healthcare to their patients. Col. (John) Melton is an excellent leader and physician. He understands that and will ensure that patients continue to receive the medical care and services they expect from Womack.”
Those facilities joining Womack are Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, the 81st Medical Group, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, the 628th Medical Group, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and the 4th Medical Group, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. The remaining DoD medical facilities will transition to DHA by Oct. 1, 2021.