Naval Hospital Jacksonville Editorial by Ralph Williams
Naval Hospital Jacksonville rests along the shore of the St. John’s River on the southern edge of NAS Jacksonville. First commissioned in 1941, it is also the parent command to five Naval Medical Clinics located in the Southern U.S. The command’s motto is “Healing our nation’s heroes.”
The Naval Hospital was commissioned in 1941 shortly after NAS Jacksonville, where it is located, was commissioned in 1940. In 2016 it celebrated its 75th anniversary of providing quality healthcare to the fleet. The size of the hospital has varied over the years with major changes happening in 1967 when the current hospital was built, 2003 when a new pharmacy was completed, 2008 when a surgical suite was added, and in 2011 when a large addition and renovation was completed. The hospital has received numerous awards for its quality and innovative medical care including earning the Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission and the highest-level award (Level III) from the National Committee for Quality Assurance for its Patient-Centered Medical Homes. In 2018 Naval Hospital Jacksonville launched Navy Medicine's world-wide pilot of "Navy Care" virtual health app - with virtual visits on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. In the same year Naval Hospital Jacksonville performed Navy Medicine's first outpatient, same-day hip replacement surgery. Besides the main hospital location, it is also responsible for five Navy Branch Health Clinics (BHC) at Albany, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Key West, Florida; Kings Bay, Georgia; and Mayport, Florida. Its personnel have been forward deployed in many locations including aboard hospital ships, the African nation of Djibouti, and at the Expeditionary Medical Facility in Kuwait.
My experiences serving at NAS Jacksonville involved being in the Navy Reserve. As part of my readiness status processing, I was scheduled to receive annual checkups for my health and dental status at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. NH Jacksonville serves a large number of active duty and reserve units throughout the North-East Florida area. The hospital also provides healthcare for active duty dependents and retirees, so it has a large group of patients it cares for in the tens of thousands of eligible people in the area. According to hospitals.net, 492,000 annual outpatient visits are performed there, as well as 31,000 emergency room visits, 880 surgeries, and 891 births. To achieve the greatest efficiency, it utilizes some of the newest computer scheduling technology to maximize the staff’s ability to care for its patients. Online comments of patients who have used NH Jacksonville recently state that it is a mid-sized military hospital with 64 beds that offers more personalized care then that found in a civilian hospital. Some of the highest rated comments were in regard to those who had babies delivered there, the eye clinic, and the drive through pharmacy located near the NAS Jacksonville commissary.
Facilities and Quality of Life
Located on NAS Jacksonville, the base has undergone many accomplishments and quality of life initiatives. Several improvements include a new Navy Exchange and commissary. It’s the nicest military exchange I have ever visited and resembles the most modern shopping mall. Other base improvements include the Liberty Center for Single Sailors renovation. Base unaccompanied housing are currently undergoing a major renovation, a large renovation project is being completed at the Naval Hospital Jax Mental Health Facility and a new Navy Gateway Inns & Suites building with 126 rooms has recently started construction.
For those dining on base, the food made at the base dining facility is very good. The bases' galley, the Flight Line Café, earned their eighth consecutive 5-Star accreditation. The other food offerings consist of numerous fast food courts and clubs.
Accommodations and Facilities
The Navy Lodge located on base is large in its number of rooms. There is also a large recreational vehicle park and furnished cottages available. The amenities on base include a championship style golf course, racquetball courts, a full gym, newly furnished bowling alley, an auto hobby shop, a marina with rental craft and bait and tackle, an arts and crafts shop, a church, social activities such as bingo, and more. The base also has one of the top-rated Moral Welfare and Recreational Departments rated as a five-star accreditation for outstanding facilities/programs. The child youth programs also are rated as five-stars.
Jacksonville Area Information
NH Jacksonville, located along the St. John’s River, has beautiful scenery and wildlife to view. The Jacksonville area includes a wide range of experiences. From beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, to St John’s River locations, to inland wooded areas, Jacksonville offers an outdoor scenery for most occasions. The expanding city is the fourth largest in Florida. It is rich in college football rivalries, the University of Florida Gators, Florida State University Seminoles, and the University of Georgia Bulldogs are the three major college teams people follow in Jacksonville. Professional sports in Jacksonville consist of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, along with several minor league teams in baseball, soccer, rugby, ice hockey, and men’s basketball. The number of teams compared to 25 years ago reflect a growing city footprint.
Naval Hospital Jacksonville, located on NAS Jacksonville, is part of the greater Jacksonville Navy Complex which includes a large surface ship base at Naval Station Mayport. A base with a far-ranging and growing purpose, it continues to be updated. The Jacksonville metro area is expanding and updating as well, making this an excellent destination for many military personnel and retirees.