FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Col. Nancy Parson relinquished command of Weed Army Community Hospital to Col. Michael Story July 6, during a ceremony at the hospital.
Parson took command in May 2020 after previously commanding 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion in Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
During Parson’s time in command at Weed ACH, she and hospital staff navigated the COVID pandemic, to include COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and contact tracing, the roll out of MHS GENESIS, the Defense Health Agency’s latest electronic record system, successful passing of the Joint Commission survey inspection, and hosting a Leadership Summit where leaders from the local medical community came to Fort Irwin to learn about Army medicine and build stronger ties.
Taking command of a hospital that has undergone so many transitions and events isn’t an issue for Story because change is normal for any organization, he said.
“The challenge is not to get frustrated, but focused; and for a healthcare organization, that focus is provided the absolute best for our patients and our community,” Story said.
According to Story, an organization has to be able to adapt and shift based off of the changing environment.
“We must also be a learning organization, where we are not rigid in our process, but open to define new ways to provide care to our Irwin community and families,” he added.
Parson said she is also proud of the accomplishments of her staff including several Soldiers gaining acceptance to the Army Medical Department Enlisted Commissioning program, the Interservice Physician Assistant Program, and Officer Candidate School, and civilian staff earning Civilian of the Quarter and Civilian of the Year awards.
“It’s really exciting seeing people grow,” Parson said. “I think that is what I have loved most about command.”
Commanding a recruiting battalion prior to commanding at Weed ACH prepared Parson for the teamwork necessary to run a hospital that operates 24-hours a day, she said.
“I knew that it takes teamwork across the entire organization and the installation, but I think it reinforced that lesson over and over because even within the hospital you have many different departments and you really need to rely on the leadership in those departments in order to run the day-to-day operations,” Parson said.
For Parson, her role commanding the hospital made up one aspect of why she loved Fort Irwin, but there were many more.
“It’s been such a great environment with the team we have within the hospital, the relationship I had with the other command teams, and just being able to do really neat stuff like flying in helicopters, going out for box tours, [and] Soldiers being able to attend the Oscars and stand on the red carpet,” she said. “Fort Irwin is very remote… but I’ve been able to travel and see so much of California, Nevada and even Arizona.”
Story said he and his family were excited to get stationed on the West Coast, especially at Fort Irwin, which houses the National Training Center.
“I have been to Fort Irwin previously as a rotating unit being evaluated,” Story said. “I recalled the tough, realistic training my brigade had experienced here at the NTC prior to deployment, and absolutely believe in its tenet of providing tough, realistic training.”
As her time in command ended, Parson reflected on the goals she set when she first arrived.
“I feel like I did accomplish a lot of my goals in setting the positive culture and really building a connection amongst our team and our families and then building a connection with our local communities,” Parson said.
Story said that he also has a goal for his time in command.
“My continual focus for WACH will be to provide the best healthcare to our community and find ways to streamline systems and processes to help access to care,” he said.