A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Just recently the name of the hospital changed from NNMC to WRNMMC, or if you prefer WRB. Over the past few years there has been considerable interest in this event. There were some on both sides who likened it to the Apocalypse, and just as with that subject, the dominant emotion could be terror, or rapture depending on who you were talking too. The name change became proxy for all the hopes and fears attached to the BRAC action; a verbal Rorschach on where you stood on the integration of WRAMC and NNMC.
Well the day came and we are all still here. When I walked the campus the morning after, it looked about the same. When I visited the hospital it didn't feel any different than it did the day before. As it turned out, the earthquake and hurricane were not signs from on high; the world continued to spin, and life continued to move along. This is not to minimize what is happening on this campus, and not just within the hospital. As Rear Adm. Nathan noted in his message to hospital staff, this is a new beginning. We are doing things that have never been done before. While exciting, it can be a bit overwhelming at times to deal with the amount of change we are seeing.
Which is why it is important to remember that history is a continuum. Each step is connected to that which came before, and if you have the time and the interest, you can trace the path to WRB well back into the 90's when WRAMC and NNMC integrated residencies and split services between the two hospitals. The integration of the two organizations accelerated with BRAC, and most of the clinical departments have been working together for well over two years. There are still some on both sides that bemoan the closure of WRAMC, and the name change of NNMC, but their numbers are dwindling rapidly as the majority realizes that the combined staffs of WRB have the ability to do things that the separated staffs of NNMC and WRAMC could not. The same is true with the non-medical support of our Wounded Warriors and their families. Here the integrated support plan offers opportunity to identify best practices between the service programs, the installation, and the hospital. We are looked at as the gold standard in how to support families during a loved one's illness and recovery. There is no one else, in the public or private sector that is better.
In the end, it is not the buildings, or the name, or even the service affiliation that makes Bethesda "world class." It is not one command on this campus that defines us; not WRB, not USUHS, not JTF CAPMED, not NSAB. It is the summation of all the commands together that makes us the jewel of the MHS. It is the people on the ground that makes us who we are. As the military wrestles with the ideal governance system, both for the entire Military Health System and the NCA ... one thing will not change and that is the people in the trenches who make it happen. Because of that, whoever is in charge will be able to say they are world class, and that is a good thing.
Finally, in keeping with the theme of change, this is my last column as CO of NSAB. CAPT Fritz Kass will take over sometime in October. He has been with us for nearly two months and I expect that he will hit the ground running. Being totally honest, I will not miss the job. However I will miss the people and being in support of the finest medical complex in the MHS. One team!!
NSA Bethesda sends,
Captain Michael Malanoski