In the News

The Manhattan Mercury
By Stephanie Casanova

While visiting the Irwin Army Community Hospital, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley focused on the patients and hospital staff.

Milley, the Army’s most senior uniformed officer, visited Fort Riley for the first time on Tuesday, touring the hospital with Sen. Jerry Moran, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley Commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin and Col. John Melton, hospital commander.

Fort Riley and hospital officials had a structured tour planned, but Milley often detoured to talk to patients and employees, asking if they were treated well, and if patients were satisfied with the hospital’s service. Before the tour began, Milley asked Melton how many people the hospital served, its capabilities and what groups it is unable to serve.

Milley said he’s seen some hospitals that make it difficult to provide feedback. Melton told Milley the hospital has been surveying patients and ensuring they are satisfied with their care. Patients can also leave comments and feedback on social media or on the hospital’s website.

“The customer is the focus,” Milley said.

Moran asked Melton more than once whether the hospital had the personnel it needed to care for its patients properly. After the tour, Moran said he was looking for reassurance that the hospital has the medical professionals it needs. He said retaining personnel is a challenge he’s seen at other hospitals and he was assured Irwin is recruiting and retaining medical professionals.

“We want to make sure that the Army has the resources necessary to not only have a beautiful facility that has the latest technology but also to have the people who have the expertise, the medical capabilities and the love and care for those who serve our country,” Moran said. “And it’s always a good thing to find out that that’s the case.”

While touring the labor and delivery ward, Milley asked how many babies are delivered each day. The daily average, he was told, is three, with a total of about 800 per year.

“This place is giving birth to a brigade a year,” Milley joked.

The ward has 13 birthing suites and four rooms where expecting mothers are seen before the nurse decides whether to admit them to the hospital or send them home.

Moran said he invited Milley to tour the hospital because he sought Milley’s help in moving the process along to get the hospital opened in the fall of 2016, four years later than its original opening date.

“One of the things I wanted to do was for Gen. Milley to see the results of his efforts here at Fort Riley,” Moran said.

As the group took the elevator to the labor and delivery ward, Milley told Melton everything in the hospital looked good so far.

“Taking care of soldiers and their families is a key readiness priority,” Milley said after the tour. “I’m really pleased with the Irwin Army Community Hospital and the services that they provide to soldiers and families of Fort Riley.”

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