A Message from the Navy Surgeon General: Professional Behavior

The following message was sent by Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Forrest Faison to Navy Medicine commanders world-wide.

Shipmates:

Official U.S. Navy photo

It has come to my attention that members of the Navy Medicine team posted highly offensive photos and videos on their personal social media pages involving newborns at our naval hospitals. This content was then shared on various platforms and has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of individuals. Members of the Navy Medicine team represent the Navy 24/7. Unprofessional and inappropriate social media behavior is inconsistent with both our core values of honor, courage and commitment as well as our medical ethics, violating the oaths we took for our profession and office. This type of behavior also has a negative effect on mission accomplishment and good order and discipline.

In an age where information can be shared instantly, what we say and post online must reflect the highest standards of character and conduct, in both our personal and professional lives. As health care professionals, we are entrusted with the lives and well-being of all those who have volunteered to defend our freedom, including their families. We owe them the best care and compassion our nation can offer.   We also owe them our unqualified respect. Any behavior that falls short of this expectation will be dealt with appropriately. This type of inappropriate conduct violates two of my core values: (1) be worthy of the trust placed in our hands in the privilege of caring for America’s sons and daughters, and (2) be worthy of the “uniform” we wear, both military and civilian, and all that we represent. At every level of the enterprise, we must send a clear message that Navy and Navy Medicine leadership take every allegation of offensive and unacceptable online conduct seriously and will hold responsible individuals accountable for their actions.

I have directed immediate mandatory all-hands stand downs within 48 hours at all Navy Medicine commands to review our oaths, our pledges, our reasons for serving, as well as Navy Medicine’s policy regarding use of personally owned phones and other recording devices (BUMED INST 3104.2A). Further, all commanding officers will be tasked to ensure no additional patient photos exist on social media and to take immediate action to remove such content. We are committed to working closely with ongoing investigations to ensure we have the facts and take appropriate action. I have also implemented an immediate prohibition of all personal cell phones in patient care areas until further notice. Additionally, I have directed all commanding officers to personally contact current mothers and expectant mothers planning to deliver in one of our facilities to reassure them, inform them of our actions, and address any of their concerns.

I applaud the individuals who took a stand when they witnessed this inappropriate behavior online. They chose not to be silent. This is what I expect of every member of the Navy Medicine team – from the deck plate to our senior leaders. Honor, service, caring and compassion – that is what the Navy Medicine team represents. Because of that, American families rest well at night knowing we have the watch and are committed to the best care for their loved ones. We cannot compromise the trust that has been placed in our hands. Our Sailors, Marines and their families deserve our best.

SG sends

51 comments

  1. As a retired RN in the private sector, I am appalled at the actions of these employees. My specialty was NICU/Newborn/Pediatrics. Hoping they will be severely punished for their actions.

    FYI, one of the pics showed one of the employees was wearing false fingernails. This should be forbidden in patient care area, especially in a newborn nursery. The false nails harbor bacteria and newborns have the immunity to fight off infections that these nails can cause. Hoping you will take action on this problem.

    Thanks for reading, much appreciated.

    Elizabeth Ours, R.N.

    • Those nails were also against military regulations

      • My CPO would never have allowed nails like that and I wasn’t in the medical field. Where was the ever vigilant PO over these idiotic girls? That type of inattention obviously lead to this egregious behavior. What else has been allowed to happen on their Watch?
        Leavenworth for them!

    • Thosenails are also against military regulations

      • Because who cares about those babies.. her nails were out of regs.

        • Had the regulations been followed, the babies would not have been exposed to potential infection from the false fingernails. I think that Barb’s implicit point is that this risk of infection can be reduced just by enforcing existing regulations.

        • You can tell that discipline was a problem by the nails. Hugely out of reg nails, abusing babies… goes hand in hand in my mind.

    • If the person is active duty Hospital Corpsman, nails for males aren’t supposed to be greater than 1/8 and for females 1/4 inch.

  2. Excellent response, sir. How distressing to see an innocent infant being handled as though he/she were some plaything. Life is precious and these deplorable young women have no business being charged with the care of little ones. Thank you for implementing strong procedures to deal with every facet of this awful incident, including preemptive actions to prevent future incidents. Americans would like to be assured that the individuals involved in this incident have been dealt with in such a way that they will never again be entrusted with the care of helpless patients, in all sectors (government, private, and not-for-profit). The full record of their horrible behaviors should follow them wherever they go, in any employment field, since what they did says a great deal more about them than just their unfitness for baby care.

    Our military personnel and their families sacrifice tremendously to keep us safe. The least we as citizens can do is to insist on, and see enforced, the very best care and respect to be afforded to them. As they work to make and keep the peace, they deserve complete peace of mind so that they can do what they are trained to do, undistracted by worries about the safety of their loved ones.

    Thank you again for your firm and thorough response.

  3. It seems like he was more concerned about correcting the employees for using their phones and posting the photos on social media while working. What happened to the girls who failed to provide quality care to the precious ANGELS that the parents hold so dearly to their hearts?

    • Re-read the 2nd paragraph. Definitely not the case. Those involved will be held accountable.

      • those involved were only removed from patient care. they are still employed at the facility

        • An active duty member can not be fired. However the Uniform Code of Military Justice has procedures that will make active duty member ( I will not call them a Hospital Corpmen. They have given up the privilege of title) wish they got fired.

          • Eliza Goodis-Lytle

            Active duty gets NJPed and can get court-martial, go trial and get a dishonorable discharge which is way worse than getting fired at a civilian job. She will never ever be able to work in the nursing field and she will never be able to get any government employment. She is basically SOL in any job position.

    • actually for thus offense. nothing happened. they were removed from patient care but were still allowed to remain employed at this facility. i have started petition calling for their immediate termination from this hospital. i also want to see whatever medical credentials she/they have suspended. she/they should never be allowed to work in the medical field again.

      • These are active duty navy corpsman. They are not “employees.” They can not be “terminated” as a civilian can. Rest assured, they will face punishment far more severe than simply being fired. The process is highly regulated under the uniform code of military justice.

      • I want to sign this petition.

      • Katie what part of Active Duty service member are you not understanding.

      • good for you! Send me the petition as well. We have many moms who would love to support

      • I have over 30 people, friends and family to sign this petition
        And i will go above and beyond to get as many petitions as possible. Naval hospital will never learn. They will change some regulations and then go back to the old ways.

    • As a Navy vet, I can assure you that those responsible for this will be punished pretty harshly. I suspect most of them will be, at the very least, restricted to quarters, lose a ton of pay and, more than likely, a good amount of rank. Pretty sure these little darlings aren’t going to like the next few months of their lives.

      • Really?! Well, as a Navy Veteran myself, those people should be dishonorably discharged and you know it. Maybe if boot camp wasn’t such a joke it would weed out idiots such as this!

    • I agree!!! The majority of the concern was towards the use of social media. I don’t know if he failed to really address their actions because of a pending investigation but imo, the concern was mainly towards the use of their cell phones and publicizing their actions.

  4. Good Morning Sir,

    With all due respect sir, Hammer the dog shit out of these sailors. I refuse to call them Corpsman. They have violated everything we as HM’s hold sacred and dear. Hospital Corpsman both Greenside and Blue are trusted to heal the sick and wounded and do no wrong, and to reassure our Fellow Sailor’s and Marines that they and their families are well taken care of so they can focus on the Mission. It breaks my heart to know that that trust has been violated by these two sailors. Thank you Sir.

    P.S. It was a Great Pleasure working for you at 3D FSSG KGAS

  5. AMEN IM A PHLEBOTOMIST SO I LOVE WHAT ACTIONS YOU ARE TAKING. HEARTBREAKING TO SEE A WOMEN TREAT A CHILD THAT WAY.

  6. The photograph depicting the “finger” appears to show a gloved hand that is digging into that babies fontanel. This is assault with intent to do great harm. The infants brain is virtually unprotected. How is this not part of the reporting? How is it more important to ban cellphones?

  7. Thank you so much for addressing this issue. I for one am ashamed to admit that I perfer the Naval Hospital Jacksonville Florida as my area of treatment. As was my husband’s while he was alive. Each individual needs to remember why they became a corpsman, an doctor. My husband was a corpsman AVT A/C and I was a Radioman. What these individuals thought they could get away with, I pray that they do not,and be held accountable for their actions. Thank you for addressing this issue.

  8. Excellent response to the situation Admiral Faison. But also keep in mind that it falls top down. While their actions are that of young kids goofing off, it also falls on the supervisors and department heads to keep their staff on a level of professionalism and respect for all, patients and coworkers.

    Maybe it was just this one time situation. But the reality is, like in life, what if there’s more that just hasn’t been caught or brought to the surface? Nip it all in the butt and ensure all are on the same page. Just saying….

  9. BRAVO ZULU, SG.

  10. Are they being prosecuted? Are they in jail?

  11. Thank you for your quick response. I find that incidents like this never happen in a vacuum. There are usially micro incidents leading up to it. I wonder how long and how often ethical violations take place in this unit and this facility. In addition to the unethical behavoir I see corpsmen with long finger nails, an infection control violation in the patient care setting. As you investigate what happened, please look at the leadership at the departmental and facility level. Good order and discipline starts at the top. A department runs amuck when its leaders allow it to. If their leaders didn’t know then they should have.

  12. I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE MYSELF BEFORE GOD AND THESE WITNESSES TO PRACTICE FAITHFULLY ALL OF MY DUTIES AS A MEMBER OF THE HOSPITAL CORPS.
    I HOLD THE CARE OF THE SICK AND INJURED TO BE A SACRED TRUST AND WILL ASSIST THE MEDICAL OFFICER WITH LOYALTY AND HONESTY.
    I WILL NOT KNOWINGLY PERMIT HARM TO COME TO ANY PATIENT.
    I WILL NOT PARTAKE OF NOR ADMINISTER ANY UNAUTHORIZED MEDICATION.
    I WILL HOLDALL PERSONAL MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PATIENTS IN STRICT CONFIDENCE.
    I DEDICATE MY HEART, MIND, AND STRENGTH TO THE WORK BEFORE ME.
    I SHALL DO ALL WITHIN MY POWER TO SHOW IN MYSELF AN EXAMPLE OF ALL THAT IS HONORABLE AND GOOD THROUGHOUT MY NAVAL CAREER.

  13. I believe this was not the first time these HN/HM participate in this type of behavior!!! I believe this is the first time they got caught do to publishing on a social media. With that being said from the lowest of the ranks to the highest, within that department should be under investigation and be held accountable!!! I can’t believe that those two are the only one’s that knew and participated in that type of behavior!!!
    Thank you for allowing me to speak my thoughts.

    HM1 Hatley, Kristi (Ret)

  14. Thank you for acknowledging a problem and dealing with it professionally. Those that posted and shared were not professionals. I am a Registered Nurse that does professional presentations on Nursing Docrmentation and spoke on this very issue today.

  15. I receive care from this hospital since I’m a vet. This whole hospital needs to be reviewed. You should see how many malpractice suits there are against this hospital. It is not even nationally ranked in any specialty. If me and my family were not forced to receive care here from Humana I would seek care somewhere else.

  16. Sir, you need to do a complete recertification program of all natal units. Many of us are pointing out that the finger nails are not regulation. This is the tip of the iceberg with respect to standards and proper protocols for health care and disease control. The sevice personnel implicated in the photos and vidoes did not grow those naiils overnight. This is indicative of a facility that is simply not up to proper heath standards; and a chain of command that is lax and frankly incometent to monitor the needs of patients, including the newborns. T are he staff at all levels however, all your personnel. This is a medical and leadership failure, as much as the ethical conduct failures of the corpsmen in the pictures.

  17. … Ok I’ll be the bad guy.
    This is a pound of cure for an ounce of sickness. Also this kind of response is typical for the military. The guilty parties should be removed, and made an example of. Making a new rule, that does nothing but support existing rules is poor leadership. If you can’t trust a medical provider with a phone, you can’t trust them to be a medical provider. Stop allowing garbage corpsmen, nurses, etc to graduate their respective programs. Stop allowing senior enlisted to cover for each other. Broad sweeping policy changes, to a situation that is easily remedied, is the hallmark of a politician, not an effective leader.

  18. Excellent remarks Sir. But one thing does need to be addressed. From what I have seen of posts (including what I believe to be the original) and the flood of stories on my FB timeline (most totally inaccurate), it seems it was a CIVILIAN that is the one who tried bringing this to the attention of her friend’s command. If this is indeed correct, that young lady deserves to be recognized for upholding the core values that all of us Active Duty, Retiree’s and Veterans claim to hold. I hope that you do investigate this and honor that young women, for she holds herself to our standards with ever having signed HER name on that dotted line. Semper Fi Sir

  19. As a nurse currently employed by the Navy and working in a Mother-Infant unit, I am beyond sickened by this. These two service members have not only behaved shamefully and reprehensibly, they have damaged and diminished the confidence and trust placed in all of us as medical professionals.

    These two young women deserve the harshest punishment available. They took advantage of infants who can neither speak for themselves not defend themselves against the self-serving, inappropriate and unprofessional actions of those entrusted to care for them. They dishonored their patients, themselves, their co-workers and the Navy.

  20. In all honesty, I must say Admiral Faison’s first paragraph is a great disappointment. Rather than focusing our attention on the egregious actions of these two individuals toward the newborns, his written statement focuses on the effects of sharing deplorable actions online for the world to see. His opening paragraph would lead one to believe the “crime” was sharing these despicable actions on social media. Admiral, whoever wrote your statement did you a huge disservice. Please read SECDEF Mattis’ 4 August statement on ethics. What we do when no one is watching, that is what counts. I am glad these two morons were stupid enough to share it online, now we know. Fix it!

    • Yes! Exactly my thoughts!

    • I understand your concern about the SG’s focus on the phones here. I believe his primary concern is *not* that the behavior was exposed, but that a patient’s privacy was exposed w/out their permission. In patient care you spend so much time learning about HIPAA, but I don’t know if anyone that I know every actually stated the common sense follow on to the idea that…if you cannot TALK about your patient, you can’t post their photo on Facebook either!!! And sadly some people DO not have common sense.
      I also believe this is why he has instituted the ban going forward.

      These young girls *may* be Corpsman who could be redeemable. Sometimes when a Sailor is very young and distracted by …boys, toys, whatever… If they have that big screw up… The Chief’s Mess can determine if they are clever, & if under the teenage attitude there is someone who might get scared enough to CARE about their career, patients & responsibilities.
      There are many successful Sailors who have that screw-up in their history.. Their are also many Sailors that just didnt care, took their punishment …finished their obligation and got out.
      But I would be very sure with the horrible publicity of this that these two were definitely given some type of serious NJP by the CO. CO’s do *not* enjoy seeing their Command’s show up on the news with these type of surprises!!!

  21. Fake fingernails need to be banned in all patient care areas. They are germ farms. An infection can kill a newborn in hours.

  22. We (military) are a reflection of the collective thinking of this country. We choose to serve and we bring ingrained values and beliefs that were learned from birth and reinforced by society. So, lets not be concerned with cell phone policies, social media, bad press, and the Navy’s image. Address the underlying beliefs and racism that is rooted in every area of society……including the Navy.

  23. This entire situation is very disturbing. My children were born in military hospitals. While we have received some of the best healthcare from incredibly talented doctors, nurses, and technicians, it is incidents such as this that shakes the confidence in military healthcare overall, not just the Navy.

    Why would any care provider need their personal cell phone in patient care areas? Not only is it unneeded and tempting for those without a moral compass, cell phones harbor germs and a lot of people check their phones while in the bathroom.

    The non-regulation fingernails. This is far more than unprofessionalism on the part of these two young women. This is leadership failure.

    Why have leaders contact each pregnant woman? These women should be offered a choice to have their children at a local civilian facility, at the Navy’s expense of course with no co-pays, wherever they would prefer to birth their children. It wouldn’t seem like a desperate PR ploy if this were offered. If I were a young expectant mother at NHJax, I would feel like I’m being coerced into giving birth at that hospital. I would feel violated that anyone would be ordered to call me and reassure me of my child’s safety and well being. That’s just insulting to new mothers. These leaders should instead spend time reviewing Lessons Learned and start implementing all hospital policies and regulations.

    This goes far beyond the actions of these two lower enlisted persons, it is a hospital wide failure.

    Additionally, it is assumed that because of this illegal behavior from these two women, records will have to be reviewed in detail for the entire time these two had contact with any patient at NHJax, and any unknown patient infections may be linked to those awful hazmat nails.

    The entire scope of investigations and reviews should entail much more than a few policy reviews and temporary banning of cell phones, and finger wagging at social media. If not, then maybe the problem stems further than just NHJax?

    Sounds like there is much work to do and hopefully full Navy support for this hospital. They have a lot of work to do. They will need additional help to get everything accomplished in a timely manner.

  24. Reading the article seem like they didn’t get proper training. Rules and regulations prior to working in the hospital. No service members in their right mind will tried to do wrong if they were properly trained. After the punishment, I bet it will never happens again. They are scar for life. I applauded the commander for issuing a statements to correct the problems. Thank you, sir. To the two ladies. I hope you learn your lesson and write a letter to the family apologize for your action.

  25. If I have been ASSIGNED to this MTF via Tricare Prime (so I am paying for it) because they have excess capacity, and it is quite easy to see this quality of care may explain why they have such excess capacity, will Tricare reassign me and my family to find a civilian practitioner that I have greater confidence in?

  26. I am thrilled that you have addressed this issue in such a manner as to making it clear that this was NOT acceptable by anyone. I am a retired L&D.Nursery and NICU nurse. Not only was the behavior of these people totally stupid and worrisome those nails spell infection and are an indication of lax supervision. In your remarks I am reassured that this is being addressed too.

    Thank you for your leadership and accountability. Deborah George RN BSN

  27. In response to the Navy nurses that flopped around a new born black baby, referencing the baby as Satan. Making sure medical personnel take an oath and then removing all cell phones from patient care protects who? Without the cell phone video, we would have never known this was occurring. How many others did this occur with or will occur with? How are you going to stop the behavior and the hatred? What guarantee can you give us this deplorable behavior will cease immediately? I salute you for your prompt response and initial efforts to keep ALL babies and patients safe and respected. We need more.

  28. I truly am dissapointed that the surgeon general chose his 1st lines to be about posting on social media. Who in public affairs reviewed this? It should have been about their ACTIONS not about getting caught. My goodness, Sir, were you off the mark.

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