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AFMS leaders gather at NOVA 2016

Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark Ediger delivers opening remarks at NOVA 2016. Air Force Medical Service senior leaders assembled in Northern Virginia for the three-day leadership conference to engage in strategic discussions related to Air Force and joint mission medical support. NOVA 2016 commenced on May 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Prerana Korpe, AFMS Public Affairs)

Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark Ediger delivers opening remarks at NOVA 2016. Air Force Medical Service senior leaders assembled in Northern Virginia for the three-day leadership conference to engage in strategic discussions related to Air Force and joint mission medical support. NOVA 2016 commenced on May 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Prerana Korpe, AFMS Public Affairs)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Air Force Medical Service senior leaders assembled in Northern Virginia to engage in strategic discussions related to Air Force and joint mission medical support, during NOVA, a three-day leadership gathering which began on May 24.

As the AFMS continues to make advances in health care delivery and medical readiness of the total force, NOVA provides the opportunity for senior leadership to engage in collaboration to map the way forward, strengthen mission success and prepare for the future of Air Force medicine.

At the center of this year’s NOVA were the AFMS’s four focus areas: Trusted Care to enhance reliability in safety and quality, full spectrum readiness, integrated operations support to targeted missions and Air Force Medical Home.

The leadership conference commenced with opening remarks by Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark Ediger.

“The demand for Air Force capabilities continues to grow,” said Gen. Ediger. “There is a focus on gaining back end strength.”

Gen. Ediger spoke about the need to meet the Air Force mission’s evolving requirements, while contributing to enhancement of the Military Health System. The general addressed priorities which require decisions and actions in the year ahead.

“We think we can best help commanders take care of active duty families if those families are getting their primary care from our military treatment facilities,” Gen. Ediger said. “We cannot separate the care that we give from our readiness. We need to balance readiness of the force we support, readiness of the medical force, human performance of those engaged in operations and the provision of care. We have got to continue to balance and make progress in all of these areas.”

Gen. Ediger addressed the necessity for clinical aspects of standards for readiness against which commanders can manage, in order to quantify and measure the extent to which clinicians need to practice in military platforms versus partner platforms.

The general also spoke about supporting the counterterrorism fight and the need to become more interoperable and adapt surgical, critical care and aeromedical evacuation capabilities to new mission requirements.

Gen. Ediger opened his presentation with a photograph of command surgeons attending NOVA in October of 1953 --just months after the Korean War had ended. The general highlighted the significance of the time to aeromedical evacuation. “During the first part of the war, patients were moved by ship because aerovac was too unreliable,” said Gen. Ediger. “[Military medical operations] during the war established aeromedical evacuation standards and processes to move patients not only to Japan, but from Japan to Tripler and from Tripler to Travis, where most of the casualty flow went. By the end of the Korean War, most patients were moving by air.”

The continuing evolution of the AFMS provided a robust background for discussion of the way forward. From its inception, the AFMS has continued to be the staple of aeromedical evacuation and care in the air.

In addition to critical aeromedical services, the AFMS provides medical care for over 2.6 million home station beneficiaries –with over 140,000 patient encounters each day.