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U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa moves to Marine Corps Camp Foster
U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa moved from Camp Lester to Camp Foster, Japan, March 2013. While the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is located on the naval hospital, it is Air Force owned and operated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Snyder/Released)
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U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa moves to Marine Corps Camp Foster

Posted 4/10/2013   Updated 4/12/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Lauren Snyder
18th Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Last month, Okinawa service members and their families saw a new hospital open in a new location, continuing and improving the military community's medical support on the island.

March 2013 saw the decommission of Marine Corps Camp Lester's U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and the grand opening of the new USNH Okinawa on Marine Corps Camp Foster - a facility twice as large as the original with increased accessibility for all patients.

The new hospital, which houses the only military emergency room on Okinawa, is state-of-the-art and has many general improvements for all personnel and patients, some which are specific to the Air Force Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

While the NICU is located in the naval hospital, it is Air Force owned and operated. One of four NICUs in the entire Air Force, the USNH Okinawa unit is responsible for all patients in the Western-Pacific theater.

The improvements to the unit include two additional beds, equipped with advanced ventilation systems addressing most respiration needs which are vital because the primary concern with premature babies is breathing issues.

According to Senior Airman Danielle Cardin, USNH Okinawa NICU medical technician, the new facility will be more comfortable and convenient for patients and their parents.

"My favorite feature about this facility, specifically in our unit, is the space we have acquired," said Cardin. "It's great because it gives the parents more room and privacy at the bedside. We even have facilities they can utilize to stay here. We strive to make our patients and their families feel as comfortable as possible while they are here."

Other changes include a fully secure ward, isolation rooms for infants more susceptible to airborne infection, and a tube system which allows prescriptions, samples, paperwork and other information to move quickly throughout the hospital.

The NICU cares for approximately 22-26 infants a month, and sends an average of 30 infants a year to stateside facilities for specialized care. Every infant traveling from the Camp Foster facility is accompanied by USNH Okinawa NICU technicians to their stateside hospital destination.

With such a specialized mission, preparation for the move began months prior and included familiarization training with the new building, ensuring staff can evacuate infants needing to be transported.

"The best part of the move was finally seeing all the parts and pieces come together," said Staff Sgt. Deanna Haxton, USNH Okinawa NICU medical technician. "After years of planning and months of movement drills we saw each department come together to move like a well-oiled machine."

To get to the hospital from Kadena, head south out of Gate 1 on Route 58 towards Naha. Enter Camp Foster's commissary gate. From the gate, turn right at the four-way stop, and follow the traffic prompts up the hill.

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