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The Launch Newsletter

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Lovell FHCC Monthly Newsletter - July 2020

A Message from Leadership...

Captain Thomas J. Nelson, MC, USN, Deputy Director, Commanding Officer

CO/Deputy Dir

I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to introduce myself to readers of “The Launch.” In a virtual Change of Command ceremony livestreamed June 30 on Facebook, I had the privilege of assuming the command of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes and role of deputy director of Lovell FHCC, taking the reins from Capt. Greg Thier, who has gone on to his next assignment as the force surgeon, Naval Surface Forces, Pacific.

The really interesting thing about my paragraph above is that it contains two references that were almost unheard of, just one year ago! The COVID-19 pandemic has made virtual events almost commonplace with weddings, graduations and even military change of command ceremonies now taking place through the Internet rather than in-person, for nearly all but principal participants.

This change of command was the first for Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes, formed under Capt. Thier’s watch to align the military readiness component of Lovell FHCC’s mission with other military treatment facilities throughout the Department of Defense. However, this new title does not change my day to day leadership role as the deputy director of Lovell FHCC. I am so honored to be alongside Dr. Robert Buckley at the helm of the nation’s first fully integrated VA – DoD federal health care center, serving veterans alongside service members and their families, as the FHCC approaches its 10th anniversary!

My Navy career began a little over 25 years ago, and included a time at Naval Medical Center San Diego, where I worked alongside Dr. Buckley where he was an ER physician and I was finishing my general surgery residency training. I was most recently stationed in Okinawa, and I was glad to leave the “feels like” 104 degree subtropical temperatures behind for the “milder” weather here. Both my wife and I have strong family ties to the Chicago area and I went to college and medical school here, so we actually do know what to expect this winter!

However, like the rest of you, we cope with a new reality full of unexpected changes. Unfortunately, change will continue to be the overarching theme at Lovell FHCC for some time to come, as the facility begins to gradually increase its on-site services for VA and DoD patients. Throughout our hospital and clinics currently, face masks are mandatory for all; appointments are needed for all non-emergent outpatient services -- even labs and radiology; and we strongly encourage patients to come alone to appointments when possible or bring just one companion if needed for safety or medical reasons. The safety of our patients and staff is always our foremost priority and FHCC practices will continue to evolve, as needed, to best ensure that we’re “Readying Warriors, Caring for Heroes” in ways aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

One constant for me is my dedication to customer service. I look forward to hearing your feedback, and to being a part of a leadership team dedicated to making your experiences at Lovell FHCC positive, whether you’re a patient, staff member or caregiver.

Let's Get Social

FHCC has a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please see the links below to visit our social media sites. Below are the posts that received the highest engagement for the month.

Top Posts from June

Fair Winds and Following Seas to Capt. Thier

change of Command Album  

Fair Winds and Following Seas to former Lovell FHCC Deputy Director and Commanding Officer Navy Capt. Gregory Thier, who relinquished command Wednesday, June 30th. Capt. Thier expertly led the FHCC for two years, with good humor and grace, through many challenges and changes. Please view the full photo album of his time at Lovell FHCC here.

Virtual Change of Command Ceremony 

Change of Command  

FHCC held its first virtual Change of Command Ceremony broadcast live on Facebook. The departing Capt. Thier will go on from the Lovell FHCC to be the Force Surgeon, Naval Surface Force Pacific. Capt. Nelson, Welcome! We look forward to working with you. You can watch the full Change of Command Ceremony here.

Sailors Embark on Campus Cleanup

Campus Clean-up  

FHCC Navy sailors recently embarked on a campus cleanup at our main hospital in North Chicago and left the grounds looking awesome! The cleanup effort was led by the Lovell FHCC First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA) and the FHCC Junior Enlisted Association (JEA). Click here for the full story and photo album.

U.S. Navy Hospital Corps. 122nd Birthday

HN Birthday  

Happy 122nd Birthday to the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps Hospital Corpsmen make up a large part of our staff here at Lovell FHCC and we could not do it without them! View the full photo album here of the alternative celebration that was held due to COVID-19.

NFS: Delivering Meals and Patient Satisfaction Despite COVID-19


NFS staff strive for 100% Patient Satisfaction every day. Staff pictured from left to right: Chanda Rowell, Marlon Setmore, CS3 Ngwa, Paul Wilson.

The Lovell FHCC Nutrition and Food Service (NFS) staff can sometimes operate behind the scenes but are among the essential staff here at Lovell FHCC. They can't telework. Instead, they are on the front line working with patients taking meal orders, passing trays, delivering food to patient care units and four Green House homes, and providing table service to our residential programs.

When operations shifted due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, NFS set a goal to maintain a safe and pleasant dining experience for all they serve while maintaining normalcy during mealtimes. While many facilities closed their patient dining rooms and chose to serve food on disposables, the FHCC NFS team implemented a process for social distancing so the patient dining room could stay open, much to the appreciation of the patients who did not have to receive boxed meals or have fewer menu choices. The team also follows the CDC guidelines to utilize real china and flatware instead of paper.

Wanda Parks, NFS supervisor, recognizes how important every member of her team is. “We are not a one-person operation, and it takes a village of food service workers, cooks, dietitians, administrative staff, supervisors, leadership commitment, and continuous process improvement to ensure patients receive safe and wholesome food every day,” Parks said.

“The meals provided by NFS are the first medicine," Parks said. Staff remain flexible, adjust to rapid change, adapt, and implement changes on demand as patient care needs change daily. NFS staff are doing ordinary things during an extraordinary time.”

We are all thankful for the work of the NFS team, which has worked to treat all with dignity and respect, while maintaining patient satisfaction during this critical time. NFS embodies the patient experience goals all Lovell FHCC staff members strive to meet!

See more photos related to this story on our Facebook page.

Recreational Therapist Get Creative During COVID-19

Rec Therapy

FHCC Recreation Therapist work to improve the quality of life for veterans in long term care. Recreational Therapist pictured above, with their patients, from left to right: Michael King, Amy Lefstad, and Tricia Stewart.

During COVID-19, veterans in long-term care or shorter-stay mental health programs have had more free time. The Recreation Therapy team has continued maintaining and improving veterans’ quality-of-life by offering enjoyable activities, while creatively maintaining physical distancing and other safety practices. By keeping group sizes small, spreading out veterans while engaging in activities, using face masks and ensuring frequent handwashing, minimizing physical contact, and sanitizing surfaces, rec therapists maintain best practices while continuing to make things fun.

Veterans in the geriatric program are served by two highly trained recreation therapists, a certified music therapist, a registered art therapist, as well as four assistants. Four seasoned therapists and a recreation therapy assistant work in Mental Health. The team of 13 works diligently to ensure high quality services to inpatients and outpatients. Staff typically spend about 70 percent of their time engaged in direct patient care and interaction with veterans in programs and assigned areas, each working with groups of 15 to 20. Recreation Therapy staff also provide supplies for residents to pursue interests independently. Craft kits, art supplies, musical instruments, books, games, movies and puzzles are readily available.

New programs include Robotic Pets, which provides veterans robotic cats or dogs to comfort them until our much-loved therapy dogs are allowed to return with their human volunteers. Also new, with help of Recreation Therapy staff, veterans use iPads to video chat with family.

The Lovell FHCC Recreation Therapy team works hard to implement the VHA philosophy of Recreation Therapy: To provide therapy based patient-centered service that integrates function, quality, and meaning to one’s life.

"I couldn’t be more privileged than to work with America’s heroes, our nation's veterans, and I couldn’t be more proud than to work with such an amazing group of talented, creative, and dedicated individuals as are found on our team" said Sean Gartland, Recreational Therapy Supervisor. He continued, "they’ve used their creativity and professional skills to adapt to an ever-changing environment of care, always keeping the safety and quality of life of our veterans first and foremost in their thoughts and practice".

Photos submitted by Sean Gartland. 

See more photos and the full story at our FHCC Facebook page.