Group picture of the meeting between USNHO and the University of the Ryukyus.

Group picture of the meeting between USNHO and the University of the Ryukyus. (Isaac Savitz, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa)

Navy Medicine

U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Okinawa

Okinawa, Japan Recently, leadership from the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa (USNHO), Japan, met with leaders from the University of the Ryukyus. Captain Kathleen Cooperman, Commanding Officer of USNHO, met with Dr. Yusuke Ohya, Director of the University of the Ryukyus, to discuss the importance of a strong relationship between the two healthcare facilities, which will soon be next-door neighbors. The university is building a new campus adjacent to USNHO and is projecting a 2025 opening. The opportunity for training, distributed resources, and increased shared experience from a diverse provider network is a relationship both organizations are eager to create.

The two Directors spoke about ways both organizations could help each other to ultimately provide the best healthcare opportunities for the beneficiary population in Okinawa. Multilateral engagement between the many healthcare providers in Okinawa makes sense. USNHO Nurses are working together with other Nursing schools to provide training, and the University of the Ryukyus needs nursing staff. Creating a pipeline of mutually beneficial relationships will allow for strategic partnerships that ultimately improve healthcare for the people of Okinawa. Okinawa is a small island that must import most products, creating logistical challenges.

There is also the issue of students leaving the island to study in mainland Japan and not returning because there are perceived to be more opportunities outside of Okinawa. These relationships with clear paths that lead from the classroom to job opportunities will help retain talent here on the island.

USNHO is committed to being an engaged partner with all the healthcare organizations in Okinawa. Just last week, the new director for the JSDF Naha Hospital and staff visited USNHO. They are equally interested in creating a collaborative combined effort with the Naval Hospital. With all of the focus on access to care and host nation network availability, Captain Cooperman is forging the way to solidify these relationships to ensure all beneficiaries that create the combined “Total Force” can navigate through the elaborate Okinawan healthcare network. In the end, it is just people who are committed to caring working together to make better opportunities for their patients.

The U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Okinawa (USNMRTCO) supports the Defense Health Agency’s U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa (USNHO) as the largest OCONUS Navy Medicine medical treatment facility and stands t ready to respond to contingency operations to support the INDOPACOM region. It is a critical regional asset for direct care delivery, regional referrals, and medical contingency operations. The staff of USNHO understands their vital role as pre-positioned, forward-deployed naval forces within the first island chain, aligned and in support of the joint military commands and operations.

Trey Savitz, Public Affairs Officer

U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan

Comm: 011-81-971-7024

DSN: (315) 646-7024

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