After working in civilian hospitals for the past 5 years, I thought it would be interesting to note the differences as I start working in a Military Treatment Facility (MTF). There are many similarities between civilian hospitals and MTFs, like the fact that MTFs are accredited by The Joint Commission and other civilian accreditation organizations. They are, after all, a hospital at the core. That said, there are many differences between civilian hospitals and MTFs. This starts with the very fact that in addition to being a hospital, they are a military command. This means that there is a very specific and traceable chain of command at any level. You can very easily determine who you report to and who reports to you. There are also specific jobs assigned to people in key positions. That means if someone is responsible for a task, such as the unit schedule, the other department leadership will defer to that person instead of “making this change for them” and “letting them know”. This actually does help communication because there is one specific person for certain tasks and things don’t get lost in the shuffle between multiple managers.
One obvious aspect of a military command is the defined hierarchy and rank structure. I am currently an Ensign in the Navy, so I am a junior officer. That affords me certain rights as well as responsibilities as an Naval officer. One of these is the time-honored tradition of saluting. All enlisted members of the military salute officers of any rank. As an officer, I outrank around 90% of the Navy, even though I have not even completed my orientation yet. That also means the Command Master Chief, a seasoned veteran with around 20 years in the military, many more ribbons on his or her uniform, the senior enlisted person at the command, and his picture posted on the wall in various places around the MTF salutes me…a junior officer that has been in the military for a few weeks. This is the way the military operates, but makes me take a moment of pause, as in any other setting, (while I may not be saluting) I would be the one giving respect to the more experienced person. It reminds me what responsibility I have to live up to the respect my position as an officer holds within the military and society in general.
Another aspect of a military hospital versus civilian is that in the military, (with very few exceptions) no department is ever really “closed”. There is always someone on-call, on recall, or on duty that can be contacted if someone needs assistance from that department. That is a big difference from some civilian facilities that departments simply do not function for any reason between 5pm on Friday and 8am on Monday morning. I have tested this fact, and was pleased by the availability of the on-duty personnel.
I am also enjoying working at such a large facility. The MTF is big! Like really big. Here are a few statistics to help quantify how large of a facility at which I work.
- More than 250,000 are eligible for care
- Nearly 100,000 beneficiaries enrolled
- Staff is comprised of more than 6,500 military, civilian, contractor and volunteer personnel
- Personnel proudly deploy to support US Military Hospital Kuwait, the I & III Marine Expeditionary Forces, numerous humanitarian missions afloat and ashore and as individual augmentees.
- Personnel deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Djibouti, and aboard the USNS Mercy
- The staff has been recognized for excellence by such organizations as the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Athena International.
- A 272-bed multi-specialty hospital and ambulatory complex
- 1.2 million square feet located on 78.4 acres
- 2 libraries
- 18 operating rooms
- Full Blood Bank collecting 15,000 units per year
- 11 primary care clinics offering active duty and family care
- 10 Dental Clinics caring for active duty
- Helicopter Landing Pad for Medevacs
- Medical and Surgical Simulation Center
- Virtual Reality Lab for PTSD treatment
- Recreational facilities on-site include: 2 gyms, 2 pools, volleyball and basketball courts and softball field
SERVING OUR NATION:
- 24 Graduate Medical and Dental Programs, of which 97 percent of graduates become board certificated
- Affiliated with 19 civilian nursing schools, training more than 400 students per year in their clinical rotations
- Only DoD site for Prosthetic student training
- 6,500 prescriptions filled
- 4,000 outpatient Medical/Dental visits
- 1,000 immunizations distributed
- 170 Emergency Department Visits
- 150 pairs of glasses made
- 50 Operating Room cases
- 45 new patients admitted
- 10 babies delivered
Note: All of the statistics and specific numbers were obtained from the hospital’s public website.