Lejeune "Welcome Back" Program Assists Wounded Warriors

By Anna Hancock, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Public Affairs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune (NHCL) introduced the MEDEVAC Welcome Back (MWB) program Nov. 15, designed to expedite care to wounded Sailors and Marines returning from the battlefield.

A trial of the program in early November has proven the concept's success, and the hospital staff looks to continually update and improve this new service.

"The MWB program immediately opens the lines of communication to an entire team of  medical professionals who will be involved in caring for the service member," said Capt. Sarah Martin, NHCL director of nursing services and one of the program's creators. "We saw a great opportunity to enhance access for these wounded warriors and facilitate their evaluation and treatment."

MEDEVAC coordinators lead the efforts by assisting with the logistical arrangements to transport the wounded service member directly from the flight line to the naval hospital. Coordinators then notify the MWB medical team to be on standby for the service member's arrival and immediate medical examination. Support and initial medical treatments are provided twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The MWB program is built to support the approximate 30 –40 combat-wounded service members who arrive to the Camp Lejeune area monthly with non-acute injuries. The program provides medically evacuated Wounded  Warriors with a comprehensive medical examination on arrival to assure their condition has not changed during travel, and to provide treatment for any ailments requiring immediate attention. The member then receives head of the line privileges to any necessary specialists the next business day.

For MWB patients who check in after working hours, NHCL has  designated a room in the hospital barracks to provide berthing, until their specialist examination the following workday. The program also allows for patients with non-critical injuries to return home to their families at the earliest point possible.

"We have seen the community and hospital rally around this program upon its creation and inception," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Nicholas Cockrill, lead MEDEVAC coordinator. "The non-profit organization, Semper Fi Fund, even donated an XBOX and blankets for the Sailor or Marine to use in the barracks room."

"MEDEVAC Welcome Back really lets us wrap our arms around each patient, walk them through what can be an overwhelming situation, and let them know we'll do our   best to ensure they get the care they deserve," said Nita Hedreen, NHCL healthcare business director. "As medical professionals, we always want the best for our patients, especially for the wounded warriors who put their lives on the line."