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NEWS | Dec. 18, 2015

NHCC and CBOC celebrate five year anniversary

By Capt. Elizabeth Maley, commander Naval Health Clinic Charleston

On Nov. 10, we celebrated the 5th Anniversary of the grand opening of Naval Health Clinic Charleston and the Charleston Veterans Administration's Goose Creek Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

November 10, 2010, marked a major milestone in the history of federal healthcare in Charleston. What was once just a vision on paper became a reality, as Naval Hospital Charleston and the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center combined forces to bring patient-centered health care to service members, family members and veterans of the Charleston community. This major restructuring, in one location, at the Captain John G. Feder Joint Ambulatory Care Clinic, on the Joint Base Charleston Naval Weapons Station strengthened the partnership between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. What was once a stand-alone hospital became an integrated health system with improved access to the safest and highest quality health care services.

During the next five years, health care providers of the joint VA-DoD facility set standards making it a model of its kind for the military and the nation.

On a daily basis, Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs staff worked side-by-side to deliver services in radiology, cardiology, physical therapy, pharmacy, laboratory and preventive medicine.

As our beneficiary population has grown, our dedicated staff remained committed to delivering the safest and highest quality of care.

I often wonder, when Navy and VA senior leadership cut the ribbon celebrating the grand opening of this 188,000 square foot clinic five years ago, could they have known that NHCC and the Goose Creek CBOC would be known as a model for other joint VA-DoD ventures to emulate?

When we moved in, we didn't just get a new building. Many innovations and improvements to care followed including a drive through pharmacy pick up window.  The high-definition magnetic resonance imaging unit, purchased by an initial VA-DoD Joint Incentive Fund, has produced a phenomenal return on investment. By sharing it, both agencies have combined cost savings with better access for our patients. Veterans and service members alike are able to get their labs drawn and x-rays taken in the combined facility.

As recently as the past six months, we expanded the Physical Therapy clinic to improve access for much-needed physical therapy care for veterans, service members and their dependents. The Physical Therapy clinic facilitates continuity of care for our patients, while allowing us to more efficiently manage our valuable health care resources. 

Our accomplishments speak for themselves. Both NHCC and the CBOC have continued to maintain Joint Commission Accreditation status.  NHCC's medical homeport has maintained National Committee for Quality Assurance Level 3 recognition since 2012. Our laboratory consistently earns College of American Pathologists accreditation. The NHCC Wellness team achieved the Gold Star level of the Navy Surgeon General's Blue-H Health and Wellness Award in 2015 and, with our Lowcountry Federal Healthcare Alliance partners; we won the Federal Employee of the Year Team Award 2014.

However, even with these indicators of success, the real measure ultimately is our patients' well-being. Currently, NHCC is at a 93% customer satisfaction rating. Every day, I read the comments our patients provide, commending our staff and reaffirming their choice to get their medical care here.

My colleagues in Navy medicine and in military treatment facilities around the country, often ask, how is your clinic so successful? The answer is teamwork. We are bound together by our deep commitment and our pursuit of excellence in providing healthcare.  We are one of only a few joint facilities in existence with a mature sustainable resource sharing framework.  Our patients not only reap the benefits of our sharing of resources and technology, but also, in the experience and knowledge of our joint professional and support staff.

The past five years have laid the ground work for future growth and expansion for this facility. We look forward to building upon our accomplishments. I'm confident when future staff members and patients celebrate the 25th anniversary in 2035, they'll look back at the history we're creating today and recognize this was the clinic that revolutionized the federal healthcare model.