Sgt. Wayne Parnell, a healthcare specialist at Moncrief Army Health Clinic, fills a syringe with COVID-19 vaccine Jan. 8, 2021 at the Solomon Center on Fort Jackson. Moncrief Army Health Clinic’s Preventive Medicine Department will soon change its name to the Department of Public Health. (Photo by Robert Timmons)

Moncrief department to undergo name change

By Reginald Rogers, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

To become better aligned with off-post medical treatment facilities, and to better encompass the Fort Jackson local community, Moncrief Army Health Clinic’s Preventive Medicine Department will soon change its name.

The Department of Public Health, as it will soon be called, is consistent with similar public health efforts at several local facilities, such as Lexington Medical Center and Prisma Health System. Moncrief officials pointed out there are no additional duties involved with the name change, but it does boil down to one thing, in particular - accreditation.

“This is actually something that came down from the Army Public Health Command a few years ago,” explained Capt. Jeffrey Wischhusen, Moncrief’s preventive medicine chief. “They are trying to make each public health department on the installations accredited public health departments. The end goal is going to be accreditation, which is probably a two- to three-year process of hitting all the check boxes and making sure we’re doing everything right.”

Wischhusen said another goal of the name change is to let the Fort Jackson community know the department serves the entire installation and not just Moncrief Clinic.

“In the past, we were just the Moncrief Department of Preventive Medicine but we've been working for the whole installation,” explained Wischhusen, whose title will also change to director of Public Health.

He said he wants to ensure that local community members know his department is responsible for more than just the flu campaign.

“We want people to be aware that we have environmental health, industrial hygiene, occupational health and different areas that deal with employees throughout the installation and not just Moncrief Clinic,” he said.

Wischhusen added that preventive medicine still carries the responsibility of heading Fort Jackson’s flu drive, which takes place in the fall months of each year. He was quick to point out that administering the COVID-19 vaccine continues to fall on Moncrief’s Immunization Clinic.

“We essentially provide guidance on what (type of vaccine) to get,” he said. “We use all information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their guidance in almost everything we do. The combination of the CDC and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control guides our actions, whether it’s for the Army Training Command or Moncrief.”