The signing of a groundbreaking agreement between representatives from Penn Medicine and the United States Navy will take place today, marking the beginning of a three-year collaboration to integrate members of the Navy with the Trauma Division at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC). As part of the Naval Strategic Health Alliance for Readiness and Performance, participants will get hands-on experience in all areas of trauma care, from surgery to anesthesia to nursing, at one of the nation’s busiest trauma hospitals. In addition to their extensive international deployment experience, the eleven Navy team members bring a wealth of information and expertise to the table, which will help to advance innovative methods and understanding in both civilian and military healthcare. Kevin B. Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the Navy, will sign the agreement at a ceremony on March 31.
According to C. William Schwab, MD, the Founding Chief of Penn Medicine’s Trauma Program, a professor emeritus of Trauma Surgery, and a veteran of the Navy himself, “This partnership will work to develop a blueprint for other future partnerships between the military and civilian health systems and will be of great benefit to both parties.” In order to offer the best possible care to patients, Penn Medicine’s Trauma Division is extremely skilled at training multidisciplinary teams, and the United States Navy team will be completely immersed in all areas of practices and specialized units while at Penn Medicine. ”We are excited to work with the Navy and to conduct ground-breaking research that will enhance how we care for patients and improve outcomes, both in hospitals and on the battlefield.”
“The University of Pennsylvania Health System has provided invaluable assistance to the Navy medical team,” says Dr. Smith. As RADM Gillingham explained, providing trauma care in a deployed combat environment can be difficult at best, and preparing for and maintaining such skills is difficult because garrison military treatment facilities simply do not see the types of cases or the level of urgency that a trauma team will encounter when deployed. “Important lessons will be learned by this Navy team, which they will bring back to the Navy Medicine Department, which will assist both them and us better comprehend and prepare for future deployments.”
In addition to four doctors, three nurses, a physician assistant, a surgical technician, and a Corpsman, the Navy team is modeled after the surgical teams that the Navy sends to active combat zones. They will integrate into the PPMC Trauma Division as well as the academic clinical departments – such as Surgery, Anesthesia, and Emergency Medicine – to receive intensive training in treating traumatic injuries from leading experts at PPMC in order to ensure that their skills are at the highest possible level when they are called upon to serve overseas. The Navy team will move to Philadelphia with permanent change of station orders for a period of roughly three years, beginning in July. However, although Navy medicine has collaborations with various civilian trauma centers and hospitals, the new relationship with Penn is the most extensive collaboration to date. Also at Naval Medical Facility Camp Lejeune (NMCCL), a Level III trauma center dedicated to serving service personnel and the local community, the Navy maintains a presence.