Thursday, April 19, 2007

Navy Yard Opens New Health Clinic

National Naval Medical Center Commander Rear Adm. Adam Robinson, Jr., and Naval District Washington Commandant Rear Adm. Terence McKnight opened the new Washington Navy Yard Branch Health Clinic Tuesday.

The $15 million project brings medical and dental services to one clinic.

‘‘Everyone needs to know this [ceremony] is not about me or any one person,” Robinson said. ‘‘This is about the team we have in Navy Medicine. A lot of that team is right here at Washington Navy Yard and at Bethesda. It’s not about the building’s brick and mortar ... it’s about the people inside it.”

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS) John Thomas, the clinic’s leading chief petty officer, said the renovation unites four previously separate health care services under one roof. The medical and dental services join the new industrial hygiene clinic and the Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program. The substance abuse program is relocating from Bethesda.

Staff members actually moved into the new building Feb. 21 and services were fully operational Feb. 26, Thomas said.

Building for the new two-story, 68,000 square foot center started in October 2004. The clinic serves more than 3,000 active duty service members, retirees and family members.

‘‘It’s very exciting,” said Thomas, who has been at the clinic during the entire three-year project. ‘‘We’ve got cutting edge technology like wireless tablets, [video-teleconferencing] systems and digital radiographs. In addition, we’ve enhanced accessibility to our patient treatment rooms and the dental laboratory. [The move] increases our capacity for patients.”

Olivia Jones, a dental assistant at the clinic, said the new technology isn’t the only improved patient benefit. Jones said patient security regarding Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has changed for the better. The clinic’s patient records office allows for more privacy when patients check in, she said.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Chelsea Turner, a Preventive Medicine technician at the clinic, said one of the biggest benefits of the move is streamlining the deployment readiness process.

‘‘Medical and dental readiness can be taken care of in one place,” Turner said. ‘‘You don’t have to travel from one place to another or schedule multiple appointments to get ready for deployment. That’s a huge benefit when you’re trying to get things done fast.”

Naval District Washington’s Corporate Information Manage-ment Director John Imparato said change is often met with resistance, but combining medical and dental services ‘‘just makes sense.”

‘‘This change is not only good for the Navy in that it combines administrative services, it’s also good for Navy Medicine,” said Imparato, a 30-year Air Force retiree. ‘‘It’s good for the staff but, most of all, it’s what’s best for the patient.”