Capt. Kim Lyons and Master Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Robert Whitten have been relieved of their duties at Navy Health Clinic New England. (Navy)
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The commanding officer and the command master chief of Navy Health Clinic New England have been fired after a survey found a poor command climate.
Rear Adm. Elaine Wagner, commander of Navy Medicine East, relieved Capt. Kim Lyons of command and Master Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Robert Whitten from his position as the top enlisted sailor at NHCNE on April 6. In the CO's case, Wagner cited "a loss of confidence due to a poor command climate," said Capt. Cappy Surette, a Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery spokesman.
The Navy says the firings were entirely due to the poor results in the annual command climate survey. The quality of care was not a factor and never slipped, Surette said.
Lyons and Whitten were the sixth commanding officer and seventh senior enlisted sailor fired this year, and the only ones from the medical community. Neither could be reached for comment.
"The responsibility of officers in command of their units, sailors and mission is absolute," Surette said. "We take their performance very seriously."
Lyons was assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., for administrative duties. Whitten was sent to Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory at the Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn.
A source familiar with the matter said a poor climate survey prompted Lyons' chain of command to do an assessment of NHCNE. Around the same time, at least one IG complaint was filed and there was an informal review of the command.
Capt. Sheherazad Hartzell, executive officer under Lyons, is the acting executive director for the time being. Capt. Tina Davidson, executive officer of Navy Health Clinic Annapolis, was tapped as the permanent replacement, but the date of the change of command has not been set. When Davidson takes over, Hartzell will reclaim her duties as XO.
Master Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS/DC) Ronald Hudson is the new CMC.
NHCHE, based in Newport, R.I., provides care to about 70,000 beneficiaries, including active-duty military, their dependants and veterans. It includes four treatment facilities in the New England area.