WPAFB under pressure to fill hospital beds

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio’s largest military base is looking to fill more beds in its hospital, following a new directive.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is now expected to boost the use of 62-bed in-patient hospital from 45 percent to 70 percent.

The Department of Defense’s Health Agency since January has been evaluating health services across the nation in an effort to address a shrinking military budget and decline in service enrollment.

2 NEWS’ Beairshelle Edmé spoke with the base’s new commander, Colonel John Devillier.

He told 2 NEWS the new direction draws back from the recent assessment.

As a result, he and many other commanders are looking to meet a new goal to use their military medical facilities to their fullest capacity.

When asked why the current percentages are low, Devillier said, “Well, I think part of the program when we were assessing it is how we measure it. There is a defined baseline in the civilian world that directs the number of hours that should be spent between a physician, for instant, and a patient– so that baseline is probably a little bit different from how we do it here at the Department of Defense.”

The newly appointed colonel said to address the issue the department is making sure it is reasserting for full use of its resources.

For his part, he is trying to reach the new target.

We asked how difficult it would be to implement the new benchmark to which he said, “No I don’t. I think, you know, first of all, we have to look at all these partnerships that we’re doing and that we capture all those partnerships and that we articulate the value we bring here from this medical facility, as you know, this is the second largest in the air force. We provide so much support to the Miami Valley that might not have been captured in this entire study.”

The commander said that medical care through public and private partnerships may not have been reflected in recent reports.

He also addressed how the new directive could change patient care.

“No, I don’t feel that this is going to change how we treat our patients. In fact, it will probably further refine how we treat our patients and provide better overall medical care for the very large demographic that we support,” Devillier said.

If the hospital fails to meet the criteria, it could be in for some major changes if the numbers continue to fall.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. James Brindle reported an email to the Associated Press that there are no plans to close the hospital.

However, Brindle said the status of the medical facility will be re-evaluated next year.

The hospital is the second-largest in the Air Force system.

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