News: Paxton visits USNH Okinawa
Story by Cpl. Matthew Manning
CAMP LESTER, Japan - Debbie M. Paxton, spouse of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., visited U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa at Camp Foster and the Stork’s Nest on Camp Lester March 18 to observe the facilities and health services provided to active-duty personnel, civilian employees, contract personnel, family members and retirees on Okinawa.
During her visit, Paxton, who is a registered nurse, learned about the new hospital facility and the functions and operations of the Stork’s Nest.
Staffs at both locations were honored and privileged to host Paxton, according to Navy Capt. Pius Aiyelawo, commanding officer of USNH Okinawa.
“We just relocated to this new facility, and she had a lot of great questions for us and was very appreciative of us taking the time to brief her on not just Naval Hospital Okinawa services, but the new facility as well,” said Aiyelawo.
The new hospital is the largest overseas medical treatment facility in the Navy and has approximately twice the square footage of the previous facility.
“I was greatly impressed by the functionality, attention to detail and beauty of the new hospital,” said Paxton. “Throughout the hospital are displays of lovely photographs of Okinawa landscapes and cultural treasures. Despite just opening March 17, the state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit staff is already caring for at-risk babies. The level III NICU capability will be a great source of comfort and security to (Western Pacific) military families with high-risk pregnancies or those facing unexpected complications during labor and delivery.”
Other services available, which complement those provided by USNH Okinawa, are the services of the Stork’s Nest.
The Stork’s Nest provides free lodging for off-island families of patients who are in the intensive care unit and off-island patients with high-risk pregnancies, according to Ann G. Alexander, the president of the Friends of the Stork’s Nest.
The Friends of the Stork’s Nest is the volunteer organization that facilitates a home-like living environment for families during their time away from home.
“It provides a home-away-from-home atmosphere similar to the Fisher Houses or Ronald McDonald Houses in the states for family members of hospitalized patients,” said Alexander.
Regardless if the patient in ICU is an adult or infant, if their family is coming from locations outside of Okinawa, they can stay at the Stork’s Nest on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Alexander. The Stork’s Nest facility is unique to Okinawa and is run by volunteers and donations, she added.
“Since the eligible population of (beneficiaries) in the Western Pacific using USNH Okinawa is more than 150,000, I plan to explore future efforts to expand the services provided by the Stork’s Nest,” said Paxton.
At the end of her visit, Paxton could see that service members and their families are in the capable hands of the health care professionals of USNH Okinawa.
“It was evident the staff is proud to serve and eager to provide the best care possible,” said Paxton.
To learn more about helping the Friends of the Stork’s Nest, call 645-5431, or visit www.storksnestfriendsokinawa.org.