As senior leaders assess the hospital, ensuring needs are met, they continue finding esprit de corps amongst staff.
In an email to staff last week, WRNMMC Chief of Staff Col. Charles Callahan noted he has found staff taking ownership of their space. For example, when he recently walked through the Ambulatory Procedure Unit (APU), he met several non-commissioned officers in charge with the positive attitude needed for a successful integration.
Callahan wrote, "These tremendous noncommissioned officers from different services exemplify the spirit we all need to have if we are going to be successful as we move forward with alignment."
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Eric Shropshire, noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the APU, was pleased with the recognition from the chief of staff, but said he could not take all the credit.
"Without the dedicated people, like our crew, none of [the work] would get done," Shropshire said. "I'm getting the spotlight, but really it should be the whole department."
The Sailor has been in the Navy for 19 years, the last year and a half of which he has at the new Walter Reed Bethesda. Responsible for scheduling, and corresponding between civilian and military personnel, Shropshire ensures everything runs smoothly and everyone has the proper equipment they need to do their job, he said. He also steps in as the assistant service chief if his commander or division officer is out of the office.
He views the integration the same way he views life, he said.
"You learn from your mistakes, you try to do better, [and] you try not to make the same mistake twice," Shropshire said. He added, "You thank people for helping you, and you try not to burn your bridges. We are always going to need someone to help us out no matter what we do, and I take that mentality and bring it here. I want to operate efficiently and effectively, and I want to help people."
No matter the uniform, everyone is here to meet the same mission, and that's patient care, he said.
"We all do something similar. We have different names, but it's still the same chain of command we follow. We all have SOPs (standard operating procedures), and as long as we follow those, we'll be fine," he said.
Shropshire's "right hand man," Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Matthew Belmonte, assistant NCOIC, shared the same perspective. He said one of the biggest challenges for him, through integration, has been understanding the different jobs of his counterparts; however, training has helped immensely, he said, and he also recognizes everyone is on the same team.
"It's a learning curve. We're just saying different words. You're 18 Delta 68 Whiskey (an Army combat medic) - I'm a corpsman," he said. "That's what it comes down to, but essentially we do the same exact job."
Army Capt. Yadira Rodriguez, assistant integrated service chief for the APU, echoed the same sentiment, stating, "We come from different services, [but] our main goal is taking care of patients. We all fight for the same reasons. We are here for the same goals."
The APU staff at the former NNMC, including Shropshire and Belmonte, helped ease the transition for her, she said, stating, "They were very welcoming."
Since the integration, she said everyone has been working together, and holding regular staff meetings, taking everyone's input, in terms of processes and policies. The staff has refined various processes, allowing them to better capture work load, and operate more efficiently, she noted.
They have also instituted a morale committee, which keeps track of birthdays, anniversaries and personal achievements to let the staff know "we care," she said. "We're working together. There's a lot of progress, [and] I am so impressed."
"My team is excellent. I am so glad I have the team I have," she added. "We're a new facility, [and] we're making it work. We are part of history."