Military News

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Naval Hospital Bremerton Environmental Stewardship Recognized with Prestigious Award


By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) was honored with a "Partner Recognition" award by Practice Greenhealth, the national membership organization for health care facilities committed to environmentally responsible stewardship, June 14.

The award was presented to Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB commanding officer, and recognized NHB for making significant progress toward environmental performance goals.

The honor is one of the organization's Environmental Excellence Awards given annually to honor environmental achievements in the health care sector.

"This award demonstrates our commitment to beneficiaries, staff and visitors in protecting and preserving our environment. I am honored to accept it on behalf of our command," said Culp.

As was the case last year, NHB's environmental stewardship at home also continues to impact communities overseas. By receiving this award, a full set of mercury-free digital thermometers and sphygmomanometers have been donated to seven hospitals in Bali, Indonesia in honor of the 2012 Environmental Excellence Award winners. Previously, 100 trees were planted in Tanzania on behalf of NHB which received the 'Making Medicine Mercury Free' award as part of Practice Greenhealth's 2011 Environmental Excellence Awards.

The Partner Recognition Award is for health care facilities that have begun to work on environmental improvements, achieved some progress, and have at least a ten percent recycling rate for the total waste stream.

Naval Hospital Bremerton is recognized not only for its 30 percent recycling rate, but also for the successful completion in expanding the pharmaceutical waste program to outlying clinics, training staff members in the Green Purchasing Program and for improving the dental mercury recovery operations.

According to complied figures by NHB's Environmental department, the main operating room (OR) is a prime example in recycling efforts at the command. Their surgical savings from recycling efforts for just three weeks in late 2011 was $11,508. Projected 2012 savings for the entire year in the main OR by recycling and usage of remanufactured items is estimated to be at $172,614.

The main OR used to throw away three, 30-gallon bags of garbage per total joint surgery case. Now they recycle three, 30-gallon bags of plastic and have just one 15-gallon bag that is now thrown away.

"It's a significant reduction in waste stream to the landfill. It's really an incremental amount of waste product, and we're staying on top of the process because it's easy to take for granted. We even recycle the instrument wrappings to use again," said Kevin Stevenson main OR nurse.

Compiled statistics at NHB show that the ongoing environmental awareness campaign of recycling is working. Recycled material (in tons) of paper and paperboard went from 52.25 in 2010 to 55 in 2011; plastic went from 15.53 in 2010 to 15.75; construction debris went from 2.55 in 2010 to 3.66 in 2011; metals and aluminum cans went from 1.90 in 2010 to 2.12 and batteries showed an increase from 0.43 in 2010 to 0.88 in 2011.

Concurrently, and as a direct result of the command's overall recycle efforts, trash disposed (in tons) fell from 198.50 in 2010 to 190.19 in 2011. Overall, average solid waste disposed by hospital staff per day fell from 1.18 pounds to 1.12 pounds per day.

"Our goal for 2012 solid waste disposal per person, per day, is one pound or under. We think that by continually being actively aware and getting as many people involved as we can, that we can achieve that," said Ramon Calantas, NHB environmental technician.

According to Calantas, the pharmaceutical waste program was implemented at the branch clinic level in 2011 after training clinic staff and coordinating the disposal of pharmaceutical waste with the area base (Naval Base Kitsap, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and Naval Station Everett) Hazardous Waste (HW) departments. This process took several months. Base HW staff had to review clinic processes and Wash. State Department of Ecology policy and regulations on pharmaceutical waste disposal prior to approving several areas in the clinics as satellite accumulation areas for hazardous waste. Collection areas in the clinics were added a few months after implementation as clinic staff identified additional areas were pharmaceutical waste was generated.

Pharmaceutical waste is defined as pharmaceuticals that cannot be used for their intended purpose or returned to the distributor for credit; expired/outdated repackaged medications; dropped pills, tablets, capsules; empty vials/carpules; partially used IV bags with medication; creams, lotions; and medicines left at the clinic by discharged patients. The patient info is removed prior to disposal and the clinic will attempt to contact patient prior to disposal.

"Empty plastic medication containers from the pharmacy are [also] recycled and the expired, unused medications are first presented to the Guaranteed Returns Vendor. If the vendor accepts them, we are given monetary credit. If they are rejected, we dispose them as pharmaceutical waste," added Calantas.

NHB's involvement in the Green Purchasing program has led to an increase in the command's efficiency in green procurement by using100 percent recycled content paper by deleting all other options from the supply catalog.

"Cindy Carlson, Material Management Department, sent some of her staff (her buyers) to the Department of Defense Course "Buying Green: A Multifunctional Approach to Pollution Prevention" training in early 2011. The course is about purchasing recycled content materials, energy and water efficient products, alternative fuel vehicles, biobased products, and environmental preferred products," Calantas said, noting that the staff check for green alternatives prior to buying requested material when any non-clinical supplies have to be ordered.

NHB's "Mercury Elimination Plan" started with an inventory of supplies, materials and equipment containing mercury; their locations, manufacturer and quantity, and an assessment of the feasibility of replacing with mercury-free alternatives as practicable. The plan also included requirements to ensure mercury free products are purchased, as well as involvement with maintenance and construction staff to ensure no mercury items are introduced during repairs or projects. Much of the progress made in the plan has been the focus on dental amalgams used in dental procedures now being captured and recycled.

"We have installed a combination of dental amalgam filter in tandem with mercury removal filters to exceed federal regulation for mercury in our wastewater," said Calantas. "We installed the same units in our newly deployed Mobile Dental Van currently at Everett. We invited Environmental Staff at Everett to showcase what we have installed in the van to comply with federal, state, and county regulations for wastewater disposal in the sewer systems. We continue to collect scrap amalgam from the dental clinics including the empty amalgam capsules. These are sent to a recycling company instead of disposing as hazardous waste."

The Mercury Elimination Plan has included having fluorescent lamps being replaced with green tipped, energy efficient, low mercury lamps; using digital radiology machines that eliminate any mercury products needed for wet X-ray processing

"Our goal is to eliminate all mercury from NHB as new alternatives become available." said Robert Mitchell, NHB environmental manager. "Fortunately, our industry and manufacturers have responded to this issue, and it's becoming easier to find safer, cost-effective alternatives. But to further minimize mercury's effect, Naval Hospital Bremerton has set standards that go beyond regulatory reductions."

United States, New Zealand Sign Defense Cooperation Arrangement


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and New Zealand Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman signed the “Washington Declaration” at the Pentagon today to expand the defense relationship between the United States and New Zealand.

The declaration provides a framework for cooperation to focus, strengthen and expand the bilateral defense relationship.  It promotes a common vision for defense cooperation in order to strengthen and expand practical bilateral cooperation.

The “Washington Declaration” opens up defense dialogues that include the exchange of information and strategic perspectives and increase understanding of defense policies.  It reflects a shared commitment to a stable and peaceful Asia-Pacific region and common approaches to address the region’s defense and security issues, including contemporary non-traditional security challenges.

The partnership will include security cooperation in areas such as maritime security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping support operations.

The “Washington Declaration” was signed a week after commemorative events took place in cities across New Zealand celebrating the 70th Anniversary of U.S. forces coming to the aid of New Zealand in World War II.

A copy of the “Washington Declaration” is available at http://www.defense.gov/news/WashingtonDeclaration.pdf .

DOD Will Meet ‘Aggressive’ Efficiency Goals, Spokesman Says


By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 – The Defense Department “is on target to meet the aggressive efficiency goals set in the fiscal year 2012 budget,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

In a regularly scheduled press briefing he conducted with defense spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby, Little said fiscal 2012 savings will total just under $20 billion. The fiscal 2012 budget outlines $150 billion in overall savings from “efficiencies” –- improved business practices and reduced overhead – spread over fiscal years 2012 through 2016, Little noted.

“Earlier this year the [Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta] announced an additional $60 billion in efficiencies between fiscal year '13 and '17,” he said. “The department is currently developing implementation plans to reach those goals, and we are confident they can be realized.”

Defense components have developed implementation plans for the fiscal 2012 savings goals, the press secretary said, and have reported to Panetta that they are meeting their monetary targets.

“The secretary is personally involved in the efficiencies effort. This is consistent with his focus on more discipline in business operations, to include audit readiness and improved internal controls,” Little said.

There are more than 300 separate efficiency initiatives, which Little said “add up to a lot of money in this department.”

Eliminating redundant financial reporting and reducing service support contracts will net an estimated $17 million in savings in fiscal 2012 for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Little reported.

The Air Force is using commercial flight-planning software to make real-time flight adjustments, saving an estimated $45 million over the fiscal year, he said. The Navy is consolidating wireless contracts, for a projected $10 million cost cut during the fiscal year, he added.

The Army is streamlining installation management and decreasing the number of regional headquarters from six to four, Little said, for an estimated fiscal 2012 savings of $9 million.

“And lastly, we … completed elimination of Joint Forces Command last September, for an estimated FY '12 savings of $292 million,” he concluded.

Admiral Takes Global Message Locally in Alabama


By Bill Doughty, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, is back at work June 18 after four days of community partnership-building in his home state of Alabama.

Rear Adm. Frank Ponds' visit to Selma, Birmingham, Montgomery and Tuskegee was part of the Navy's 50 flag officers in 50 states community outreach initiative.

Ponds met with mayors, business leaders and educators. He visited the Birmingham VA Medical Center, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, University of Alabama and Tuskegee University, and he spoke to Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs about the Navy's mission of protecting commerce on the world's oceans.

Millions of tons of cargo are shipped through the Alabama State Port Authority each year to more than 175 locations worldwide. More than 100,000 jobs in the state are linked directly to trade.

"Alabama is important to the Navy and the Navy is important to Alabama," said Ponds.

His message to each group included the CNO's sailing directions, Navy's commitment to renewable energy and other global issues and how they related locally.

"I spoke about what the Navy is doing, especially in the Pacific, as a global force for good - in partnership building, maritime security and humanitarian/civic assistance support, such as Pacific Partnership. The partnerships we build help us promote understanding and cooperation that ultimately helps businesses in Alabama."

Ponds also spoke about the context and consequences of the War of 1812 (200 years ago this year) and Battle of Midway (70 years ago this month), two pivotal events that shaped the Navy and the nation.

He engaged with school administrators, educators and students at various levels.

At Tuskegee University, Ponds met with professors and students at the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences.

"I showed him the work we have with the Navy and some other research related to STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said professor and Associate Dean Heshmat Aglan. "The admiral met with PHD students and also high school students who are part of our program."

"We had very fruitful discussions, and we hope we can develop an even greater partnership with the Navy," Aglan said.

Ponds stopped at Birmingham's Horizons School, whose mission statement reads, "preparing young adults with learning difficulties for an independent life."

"Our students were very impressed," said school director Dr. Jade Carter. "What Admiral Ponds was able to do was give concrete specifics about very global concepts - and they got it. Rarely is someone so able to communicate a global message in a way that students can really connect with."

At a Kiwanis Club talk, he spoke about Navy's importance and relevance to Alabama.

John "Lex" Williamson Jr., youth scholarship committee chairman for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama, sent an email to Ponds after the talk.

"As you know, Alabama has a long history of leadership in the Navy," Williamson wrote. "My father, from Birmingham, retired as a captain, but was the creator of the Williamson Turn while at sub chaser training school in Miami in the early 40s. He was also the executive officer on the USS England which sank six Japanese submarines in 12 days in the Pacific. I am bragging, but he would have enjoyed your representing the Navy."

During his visit June 11-14 Ponds gave several media interviews and spoke about the people who comprise today's Navy.

"Right now, we have the most highly educated, highly trained and highly patriotic individuals serving as we have ever had in the history of this country," he said. "The generation that is serving today are a fabulous bunch. And their families are committed to that service as well."

Ponds credited his Alabama roots for his work ethic, family values and commitment to service.

Ponds was raised in western Autauga County. He graduated from Autaugaville High School in 1977 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama in 1982. He received his commission from Officer Candidate School in 1983.

From his office window at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Ponds can look at his eleven surface warships that comprise Commander Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific. Dozens of ships will be arriving next week for the Rim of the Pacific exercise, which starts June 29.

As Commander Navy Region Hawaii, where he leads more than 3,200 civilian and military personnel, Ponds provides support at JBPHH on Oahu and Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai to units assigned to Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet, providing readiness support that enables warfighters to operate forward.

 For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.