Saturday, March 05, 2011

Flag Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Navy Vice Adm. Joseph D. Kernan for reappointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Fla.  Kernan is currently serving as senior military assistant to the secretary of defense, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

USS Bonhomme Richard Earns Battle "E"

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class (SW) Kurt Riggs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) earned the Battle "E" award for its performance demonstrating the highest state of battle readiness in 2010.

The award recognizes sustained superior performance in an operational environment as a command and several significant achievements for excellence such as maritime warfare, engineering/survivability, command and control and logistics management. The command must then be nominated by their immediate superior in command.

"It's a significant achievement," said Capt. Charles Litchfield, Bonhomme Richard's executive officer. "The crew put in a lot of hard work in order to earn this honor and they should be recognized. This award validates what Bonhomme Richard sailors have known for a long time that this ship and her crew are top-notch in every regard."

Sixteen different areas are considered in the competition such as a ship's performance during training exercises, weapons inspections and tactical readiness. The evaluation in a year-long process and demands demonstrated excellence and superior achievement during certifications and qualifications throughout the year.

Commands earning the achievement may display a white "E" with a black shadow in a prominent position, as well as uniform ribbons noting the achievement.

NNMC Promotes Patient Safety Week

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- The National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) will commemorate Patient Safety Week March 7 through March 11, emphasizing to patients and staff the importance of patient safety.

Patient Safety Week, founded in 2002 by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), aims to raise awareness amongst health care organizations across the globe. With the theme "Be Involved, Be Invested, Be Informed, working together, we can make health care safe," NNMC providers will reiterate to their patients the importance of understanding their condition and medications to help prevent readmissions, said Rhoda Kroecker, a patient safety specialist at NNMC.

Throughout the week, there will be posters on display and a table presentation circulating around the clinical areas of the hospital with hand-outs and brochures for patients.

"National Patient Safety Week is a great opportunity to celebrate our progress on patient safety efforts and to reinvigorate our partnership between providers, staff and patients to achieve best health outcomes. Taking the time to have a dialogue with our patients will enable us to better understand their concerns and let them know we are totally committed to their needs," said Chisun Chun, deputy commander for Healthcare Operations and Strategic Planning.

"What we're really working for is to try to help patients understand their medications and what their medications are for so that they can ask questions," said Kroecker.

Patient safety goes hand-in-hand with infection control and hand hygiene, she said. It also involves communication between staff and patients – while it's important to make sure providers are up-to-date in their health field to provide the latest information to patients, patients need to be invested in their health care and what is required to make them healthy, she said.

"It's the communication between health care providers and patients which allows the patient to go home and manage their health with outpatient care," said Kroecker.

Patient safety is everyone's job – from the nurses and doctors to the food service staff, who, for example, must make sure a patient with diabetes isn't served a piece of pie, she said.

"It really encompasses the whole hospital. All staff members need to be alert to possible patient safety issues," she said. "Throughout the year, [patient safety] is always a priority. Patient Safety Week is a way to remind all staff of that responsibility."

At NNMC, a patient safety advisor program allows trained staff working within each service to promote patient safety principles, said NNMC's Patient Safety Manager Suzie Farley. The hospital also works daily to comply with the Joint Commission standards to maintain accreditation.

Additionally, a patient safety reporting system is in place, providing staff an outlet for system improvements; for inpatients, the hospital follows John's Hopkins Evidenced Based Fall Risk Reduction program, said Farley.

"NNMC embraces implementing evidence-based practices, benchmarking with other organizations and emphasizing quality patient care," said Farley.

Overall, the key to a culture of patient safety is leadership involvement and staff awareness of process and system improvements, she said.

Gates: Air Force Must Prepare For 21st-Century Threats

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today told Air Force cadets that their service branch has to change to face the foes and challenges of the 21st century.

“As future Air Force leaders, you will be the ones tackling the challenges of the 21st century head-on, and those challenges will be significant,” Gates said in remarks at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The secretary has pushed the services to fight the current wars while simultaneously investing in and preparing for a range of threats that include global terrorism, ethic conflicts, and rogue nations or rising powers with sophisticated capabilities.

The Air Force has been a victim of its own success for decades, the secretary said, noting the the Air Force has not lost a plane in air combat in almost 40 years, or an American soldier attacked by an enemy aircraft since the Korean War.

“American ownership of the skies has been so effortless, it is taken for granted,” Gates said. “Air supremacy in this century, however, will almost certainly mean different things and require different systems, personnel policies and thinking than was the case for most of the Cold War.”

USNH Yokosuka Promotes Patient Safety Awareness

By Edwin Hanson, U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Japan Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka has joined other leading healthcare organizations around the world in celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week, sponsored by National Patient Safety Foundation, March 6-12.

This year's theme, "Are You In? Commit to Safe Health Care", focused on involving all participants in the healthcare process, from patient to provider.

"We have a very proactive patient safety program here at Naval Hospital Yokosuka," said USNH Yokosuka Executive Officer, Capt. Kevin Knoop. "Providing safe high quality care is our number one priority and that requires a culture of safety in the hospital. It's not something that happens on its own; we have to remain vigilant in its pursuit at all times."

During patient safety week, USNH Yokosuka patient safety officials will be engaging staff and patients throughout the hospital for brief lessons and awareness building activities. The most visible of which will be a patient safety booth located on the hospital quarterdeck.

"Improving patient safety means that everyone – from the patient to their healthcare providers – must be involved, informed and invested in safe care. Engaging each participant in the process is vital to giving patients the best care and making healthcare safe, for all," said Diane Pinakiewicz, President of the National Patient Safety Foundation.

Prior to this week, the hospital engaged the community with a variety of programs including the "Speak Up" campaign, sponsored by The Joint Commission, the accrediting organization for the hospital. The goal of "Speak Up" is to encourage beneficiaries to engage in their own care, in turn creating a two-way conversation between provider and patients.

The National Patient Safety Goals created by the Joint Commission are year round. Goals include improving processes to properly identify patients throughout the care process, actively promoting hand hygiene and other care related activities.

A new project to the hospital was the Halloween themed, Hospital Room of Horrors, in which patient safety officials staged a vacant hospital room with more than 50 violations of patient safety policy for hospital staff members to find.

"It was a great event that really amplified a culture of safety vigilance," said USNH Yokosuka Infection Preventionist and perioperative nurse, Lt. Cmdr. Richard Lawrence. "We have to be on our game every day and programs like this help us to refine our skills in a fun and productive way."

Today in the Department of Defense, Saturday, March 05, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will speak at at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Conference in Boston, Mass.  Media interested in attending should contact Capt. Beci Brenton at 703-697-7491.