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    NMRTC Great Lakes changes command June 30 at Lovell Federal Health Care Center

    NMRTC Great Lakes changes command June 30 at Lovell Federal Health Care Center

    Photo By Seaman Caylen McCutcheon | 200630-N-NX635-1083 NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (June. 30, 2020) Capt. Thomas Nelson,...... read more read more



    Story by Jayna Legg 

    Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

    NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. -- Navy Medical Corps Capt. Thomas J. Nelson assumed command of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes in a virtual ceremony at Lovell Federal Health Care Center June 30, relieving Capt. Gregory T. Thier.
    Nelson also takes on the role of deputy director of Lovell FHCC, which supports both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs by providing medical care to servicemembers, including Navy recruits; military dependents and veterans in southeast Wisconsin and northeast, Illinois.
    The change of command was a first for NMRTC Great Lakes, which Thier helped establish in 2019. At that time, the resources of Lovell FHCC that provide medical care and support for Department of Defense beneficiaries were aligned under the management oversight of the Defense Health Agency.
    While DHA is responsible for health care delivery and business operations, Navy Medicine retains principle responsibility for operational readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps. To complement the transition, Navy Medicine established the co-located NMRTC at the FHCC.
    Thier, a family practice physician, assumed command of the FHCC two years ago. His next assignment is Force Surgeon, Naval Surface Force Pacific, headquartered in San Diego.
    Presiding Officer Naval Medical Forces Atlantic Commander Rear Admiral Anne M. Swap, who participated virtually, said today’s ceremony is her fifth virtual change of command. She expressed her regrets she could not officiate in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she noted the absence of usual elements of the ceremony. But the most important part remained, she said.
    “I’ve found when you strip it all away, the Navy Band, the stage, the audience, it truly highlights the reason we are here,” Swap said. “The change of command represents the continuity of leadership. It all comes down to those profound words, ‘I relieve you.’ The minute those words are uttered, the accountability is passed on to the next leader.”
    Swap thanked and praised Thier for his leadership and service to FHCC’s patients and for improving the lives of FHCC sailors. “To say FHCC is a complex command is an understatement but it’s an example of how the Department of Defense and VA can seamlessly work together to provide an entire spectrum of care,” she said.
    Swap pointed out the FHCC is Navy recruits’ first interaction with Navy Medicine.
    “Your leadership and partnership with (FHCC Director) Dr. Robert Buckley ensured that over 85,000 beneficiaries received quality care,” Swap continued. “Additionally, you and your team guaranteed our newest recruits 40,000 of them, received the best care and optimal welcome to the Navy... I’m proud to have had you in our region.”
    During his remarks, Thier thanked FHCC staff members for their frequent “Herculean efforts” to “spin on a dime” and find solutions, even to the toughest challenges such as COVID-19. He singled out the “incredible” FHCC nurses, and the FHCC team that “jumped on a solution” to find a way to safely and effectively quarantine incoming recruits for two weeks before they start boot camp, to stem the spread of the virus.
    “It’s incredible the spotlight that shines on this facility,” Thier said, referring to the 10-year anniversary this year of the creation of the FHCC and integration of health care services between the Department of Defense and the VA. “You should all be extremely proud … FHCC just keeps getting better and better.”
    Thier concluded by thanking his family members, who watched virtually, and saying his time serving at the FHCC has “been the biggest honor of my life.”
    Nelson said during his remarks he is “very excited to help grow the partnership” between the two departments. “I look forward to the roads set before us and working with the diverse team of outstanding active duty members and awesome civilian staff members … I thank you for your daily devotion to our patients.”
    Nelson comes to the FHCC from U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan, where he was the executive officer. He is a Navy trauma surgeon and has served in a variety of clinical posts and leadership positions during his 23-year career. After tours at sea on USS Juneau and USS John C. Stennis, he made combat deployments to Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan as a trauma surgeon.
    During his career, Nelson has provided surgical care at sea and in austere field hospitals around the world. In addition, he served five years as teaching faculty at Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Department of General Surgery and holds an appointment as an assistant professor of surgery from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
    After the ceremony, active duty staff members in summer white uniforms, and FHCC civilian staff members, honored Thier by “lining the rails,” a sendoff that has become a tradition for outgoing FHCC commanders. Staff, in masks, lined the sidewalks outside the FHCC’s main entrance to salute the outgoing commander as he drove away.



    Date Taken: 07.01.2020
    Date Posted: 07.01.2020 16:13
    Story ID: 373270
    Location: NORTH CHICAGO, IL, US 

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