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Walter Reed Bethesda leadership launched the next phase in strategic planning recently in the Memorial Auditorium, forming groups around its pillars and foundations to assure the organization's continued success in world-class health care delivery.

The work of the groups will culminate with a roll-out of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) Strategic Plan on Aug. 28, the one-year anniversary of the integration of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the former National Naval Medical Center, forming the largest Department of Defense health care organization.

Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, WRNMMC commander, explained to the Walter Reed Bethesda staff the importance their participation in forming the strategic plan during the kick-off. The plan will help determine "how we want [Walter Reed Bethesda] to be, and how we will get there," according to the admiral. The plan includes the medical center's vision, mission, strategic pillars and foundation that was introduced to the Walter Reed Bethesda staff by the commander earlier this year.

"We are the Nation's Medical Center. We create extraordinary experiences for patients, families and staff while driving tomorrow's health care advances," the WRNMMC vision states.

The medical center's mission states, "Walter Reed Bethesda leads military medicine through outstanding patient-centered care, innovation, and excellence in education and research. We provide comprehensive care to prevent disease, restore health and maximize readiness. We are: accountable to our patients and staff; preferred for our performance; admired for our service."

The pillars supporting Walter Reed Bethesda's mission and vision include readiness; quality of care; service excellence; business of healthcare; education and research; and the foundations supporting the pillars are people and resources. One of the eight groups working to establish the medical center's strategic plan falls under each of the corresponding pillars and foundations.

"Throughout the summer and beyond, there are opportunities for everyone from across the command to participate as we develop the actions and measures of performance that will assure success in achieving our strategic objectives," stated Col. Charles Callahan, former WRNMMC deputy commander and chief of staff, in a recent e-mail to Walter Reed Bethesda staff. "More importantly, as the plan cascades to each area within the hospital, we will need all of our staff engaged in the process of linking our activities and initiatives back to our Strategic Plan," added the colonel, who helped lead efforts in WRAMC and NNMC integration and establishing the WRNMMC's strategic vision, mission, pillars and foundations.

During the ceremony, each champion of the strategic pillars and foundations presented the goals and objectives for their groups while encouraging staff participation.

"It's important for everyone to get involved with this," said Joe Davidge, who submitted his name to work on the people foundation group. He said, "Without people, there's no way this organization could function."

Master Sgt. Marie Sprecher said she "enjoys working with people and making their areas better," which is why she hopes to help the organization in the strategic planning process as part of the people foundation group.

The resource foundation group is where Army Sgt. 1st Class Guillermo Lugo-Beltre wants to make a difference. "Resources are the foundation," he said, explaining resources support other priorities within the system.

"I think about my family, and I treat my patients like they are my family and how I would want my family to be treated," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rhoneli Merilos in submitting his name to participate in the quality of care group. "Quality of care is first and foremost, the most important thing."

Callahan concluded, "This is a unique opportunity you may never have again in your entire careers; you're shaping the strategy of an organization that did not exist before."