Banknotes affecting military medical facilities and patients, according to the legislator


Military beneficiaries are starting to feel the effects of staff cuts at military medical facilities, a lawmaker told a panel of witnesses who are the top military medical officials.

And defense medical officials have said they are “revalidating” their assumptions made before the pandemic for the medical staffing needs at each location, as well as the ability of local civilian networks to support additional patients.

“I know the realignment is not only affecting the military hospital in my area, but also affecting many other districts across the country,” said Representative Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., Whose district includes the Naval Hospital. from Bremerton. Hospital staff have been cut by around 100 homes over the past year, he said. “When hospital staff leave, either because they retire or move to another facility, their positions are no longer filled.”

Kilmer referred to DoD plans, announced in 2019, to remove approximately 18,000 military medical housing across all departments, as part of health care reform, by handing those housing over to task forces. It is estimated that 190,000 retirees, family members and some active-duty family members would be removed from military treatment facilities.

Due to the removal of approximately 100 homes at Bremerton Hospital, Kilmer said, “Unfortunately, we’ve seen some of these changes come at the expense of improving health care outcomes for the people I care about. represents, including veterans and active duty military personnel and their families. We have seen them lose access to quality care, so I am concerned about the ability of local civilian providers to adequately address the care gaps.

“For example, a [retiree] living in Kitsap County in my district could sometimes be required to drive more than two hours to receive treatment in Seattle.

Kilmer asked senior medical officials what steps are taken before reforms are fully implemented to ensure service members and their families have uninterrupted access to quality healthcare providers.

Defense and utility officials are “revalidating” their staffing plans for each location that were established before the pandemic, said Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency. The results of that effort are being reviewed by defense and service officials, and are expected to be provided to Congress this summer, he said, during testimony before the defense subcommittee. of the House Appropriations Committee.

“In the meantime, my responsibility, my requirement, is to make sure that care can be delivered, whether this care is on site, on the installation in our establishments or in the network”, declared Place. “If we can’t manage it in the network, then don’t reduce it to what’s happening on the facility.”

After a pandemic-induced hiatus last year, the Defense Ministry resumed its massive healthcare transformation efforts, including reorganizing and downsizing military service medical posts to focus more on task forces. This transformation also includes the transfer of the management of military processing facilities around the world from the control of military services to the authority and responsibility of DHA.

Kilmer asked for more information on the ongoing analysis and taking into account the availability and proximity of care in the local community. “And what consideration is given to the impact this will have on our military?” Because frankly, people in our region feel that there is not adequate sensitivity to these issues, ”he said.

“I’m sorry people feel like this,” Place said. “Our intention is certainly that all of these considerations are taken into account. One of the challenges we face is the super sub-specialization of care in America, and in some places in relatively rural America, as you mention, it takes a while to get from Whidbey Island or Bremerton. in Seattle where the super specialty treatments are delivered.

“But there isn’t enough need for that in the greater Bremerton area or the greater Whidbey Island area. So how do you balance the service members and family members stationed there using the exceptional family members program as well as providing primary and specialist care in these locations? This is the balance that we have to work on. . . “

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families “. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida and Athens, Georgia.


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