Air Force begins transition of hospitals, clinics to Defense Health Agency

by Air Force Surgeon General
Public Affairs
Leaders of the Defense Health Agency and the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General discuss changes made to the 4th Medical Group’s new facility, Sept. 6, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Military medicine changed to a single, integrated health system designed around patients and ensuring military medical readiness Oct. 1. — Photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Derry

The Defense Health Agency officially assumed administrative and management responsibilities of a handful of hospitals and clinics as part of the Military Health System reforms mandated by Congress.

The transition of the facilities is part of a phased implementation plan developed by DHA and Services medical departments that started Oct. 1.

Congress enacted these changes to create a more integrated, efficient, and effective system of readiness and healthcare that best supports patients and the Department of Defense.

Air Force hospital and clinics transitioning under the DHA’s direct management during the first phase include: the 43rd Medical Squadron at Pope Field, North Carolina; the 81st Medical Group at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; the 628th MDG at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; and the 4th MDG at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. The remaining Air Force hospitals and clinics will transition to the DHA in phases by Sept. 30, 2021.

“From a patient perspective, most of these changes should go unnoticed,” said Navy Vice-Adm. Raquel C. “Rocky” Bono, DHA director. “Patients can expect the same high-quality, trusted care they have come to know at our military treatment facilities. Providers can expect to focus on practicing medicine and maintaining their preparedness in the event of crisis.”

DHA will be responsible for budgetary matters, information technology, healthcare administration and management, administrative policy and procedure, and military medical infrastructure at all MTFs. The Services will retain responsibility for operational mission support and recruiting, organizing, training and equipping medical Airmen.

“Readiness will stay job number one,” said Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Surgeon General. “Increased integration with the DHA and the Services will strengthen our readiness, narrow our focus on operational medicine, and enhance our support to the warfighter.”

The next phase of integration will be comprised of hospitals and clinics in the Eastern United States and should be complete by Oct. 1, 2019. Subsequent phases include hospitals and clinics in the Western United States followed by overseas medical facilities.