By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs
BREMRTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Capt. Christopher Quarles turned over responsibilities as commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) to Capt. David K. Weiss during a change of command ceremony, Aug. 14, marking Quarles' third successful tenure assigned to NHB.
"It's hard to believe that two years have gone by so fast," said Quarles, addressing distinguished guests, staff members, family and friends.
The Kansas City, Missouri, native completed his internship in Family Medicine at NHB after receiving his medical degree in 1992 from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Medicine, where he was commissioned a lieutenant. After that initial NHB stint, he served as a general medical officer at-sea, before returning and completing his Family Medicine Residency in 1997.
"I am pleased to see many of our longtime supporters of all things NHB... We truly appreciate our collective work together to provide care for American's veterans," Quarles added.
During his time as NHB's commanding officer, Quarles lead staff members in fostering a unique partnership with Madigan Army Medical Center and Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, to take care of beneficiaries and provide as much care within the military care system as possible. Additionally, he ensured the culmination of several years of negotiation between NHB and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System by signing a Sharing Agreement in 2014 that linked both organizations in providing specific types of medical care to current Veterans Affairs eligible beneficiaries.
Guest speaker, Rear Adm. Bruce L. Gillingham, Commander, Navy Medicine West, focused his remarks on the solid legacy that Quarles built upon as commanding officer and the continuing tradition of excellence by the staff.
"This is a day of celebration to honor the accomplishments of the departing skipper," the admiral said. "The NHB staff has set the standard that many others hope to emulate. The staff are hungry to build and anxious to prove. NHB has been essential in ensuring the fleet is healthy and ready and they will continue to meet and exceed expectations."
Much of Quarles comments were directed to NHB's approximately 1,400 active duty, activated reservists, civil service, contractor, and American Red Cross volunteers.
"NHB staff, thank you. It is your efforts, your care for our patients and your mutual respect for one another that make this command what it is. Any measure of success that we enjoy is because of your hard work and dedication to all that we do," Quarles said. "You changed our baseline services while continuing to provide cutting edge, safe patient care, and maintaining our exceptional readiness services to the fleet, including supporting the Navy's global missions by providing a ready medical force. It is no stretch to say you have exceeded all expectations. As NHB Sailors have done for the last century, you have further added to our reputation of service excellence."
Under Quarles' leadership, NHB has been endorsed and accredited by a host of outside organizations such as the Joint Commission, National Council of Quality Assurance, and other independent auditors. NHB has garnered two consecutive annual Department of Defense (DoD) -wide patient safety awards, as well as had five staff members nationally recognized for their expertise in the past six months.
Capt. Weiss reports to NHB after serving as Command Surgeon, United States Africa Command.
"Capt. Quarles has ably lead the last 24 months with timeless and steadfast leadership," Weiss said. "I'm delighted to join the team. I solemnly pledge to be ready and look forward to the challenges."
Weiss is a native of Nassau Bay, Texas, a 1986 graduate of Baylor University, and a 1990 graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He has served with the initial surgical company to enter Iraq, assigned to 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force as platoon leader for the Shock, Stabilization and Triage Platoon. He has also deployed to the Horn of Africa, and commanded the medical treatment facility USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), a tour highlighted by leading approximately 850 staff members in support of Operation Continuing Promise, in 2011 to nine countries in the Caribbean and South America.