Lackland MDW Gateway Academy graduates first class of innovators Published Jan. 29, 2015 By Joe Bela 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The inaugural class of the 59th Medical Wing's Gateway Academy at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center graduated Jan. 14, 2015, marking a first for an organization whose quest is to bring innovative thinking to patient health care. The Gateway Academy launched in November 2014. Developed by the 59th MDW's Gateway Innovation Center, the curriculum is designed to teach innovative problem solving techniques, inspire people to challenge the status quo, and teach leadership skills that foster empowerment, trust and respect. "We are on a mission to enhance our world-class health services by embracing a culture of patient-centered care, quality and patient safety," said 59th MDW Commander Maj. Gen. Bart Iddins. "In order to accomplish this we must also empower all members of the 59th Medical Wing, and ensure a culture of dignity and respect that extends throughout the entire organization." Iddins also expressed the greatest sources for ways to improve customer service "come from within;" and regardless of rank, age or experience it's necessary to value all sources in order to be successful. "The academy falls in line with the 59th MDW's recently adopted strategic map, which emphasizes the patient. The wing is taking a hard look at the way daily business is done and seeking to improve every aspect of patient care," said Maj. Janet Blanchard, chief of the Gateway Innovation Center. Course attendance extends over a period of nine non-consecutive days. Students receive instruction from a myriad of experts in innovation, process improvement, leadership and customer service. In addition, each participant must conduct an improvement project over the course of the class. "Being a part of the first class was truly an invaluable opportunity," said Tech. Sgt. Meredith Bricker-King, inaugural class member. "We learned vital skills that are force multipliers for enhancing human capital, perfecting the patient experience and minimizing unnecessary system waste." "Although not a new concept, there is a renewed focus on improving the patient experience and not accepting less than a perfect experience," said Blanchard. "Gone are the days when 'the way we've always done it' was acceptable." "The only way to move forward with providing preeminent medical care is to empower our people to make the necessary changes," said Iddins. For more information on the Gateway Innovation Center, email the staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.