2018-08-10 / Front Page

Army Surgeon General visits Fort Gordon

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office The U.S. Army Medical Command’s top senior officer visited Fort Gordon last week.

Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, 44th Surgeon General of the Army, led an hour-long Army leader discussion Aug. 2 at Nelson Hall. Mission command leaders and joint service partners from battalion and brigade levels were invited to participate. West was joined by her senior enlisted advisor, MEDCOM’s Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg, for a portion of the discussion.

The discussion served as a platform for Fort Gordon leadership to ask questions and discuss topics of concern related to healthcare and readiness. Leaders representing all branches of service, to include the civilian workforce, attended.

Standardizing healthcare, continuity of care, and Army readiness were a few topics addressed during the discussion.

Responding to a concern about Servicemembers lacking standardized healthcare across the board, West and Gragg agreed it is a legitimate concern that does not have an easy solution.

A lot of it has to do continuity of care, which is difficult in a system with rotating patients and primary care providers.

It is a topic that Gragg asked leadership in the room to help with, emphasizing there is a challenge with expectation management from beneficiaries.

For example, when calling for a same-day appointment, beneficiaries need to realize that routine appointments are often scheduled are far as six weeks in advance, sometimes making it impossible to see the same PCP.

“If I get sick today and I want to see my provider, I should’ve planned to be sick six weeks ago so I could plan to see him or her,” Gragg said. “If I’m sick today and I go in, chances are I’m not necessarily going to see my provider, because that person has to produce a schedule six weeks out.”

West said the feedback she receives on healthcare has been generally very positive, but acknowledged there is room for improvement.

“The discussions we’ve had with Defense Health Agency and (Vice) Admiral (Raquel) Bono (director of DHA Medical Corps) is that she has a vision as well of ensuring that we standardize where we can that makes sense,” West said.

Keeping in mind that readiness has always been the Chief of Staff of the Army’s No. 1 priority, West and Gragg tackled some difficult concerns surrounding readiness as it relates to being deployable.

“With the new PT test that’s coming out, we need to make sure that people are as healthy as they can be for that ... and not to lack compassion, but ... what we do is an ‘away game,’ and we need every member on the team able to get on the field,” West said.

When it comes to readiness, West said injury prevention and education play key roles in ensuring Servicemembers are fit for duty, which also means being fully capable of deploying.

“If you teach people how to do PT correctly ... and have a physical therapist right there that can start treatment rather than waiting until the twinge becomes a ruptured something that has to go to the hospital ... the focus needs to be more preventative,” West said.

Closing out the discussion, West praised Fort Gordon leadership for taking care of their Servicemembers and encouraged them to continue to give feedback.

“The only way we get better is by hearing from those we support,” West said.

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