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The surgeon general of the U.S. Navy said his visit last week to the hospital at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, had two benefits.

“First of all, we get to see our people doing their jobs and I can get a better sense of what their issues are,” Dr. (Vice Adm.) Michael Cowan said in a statement released by the base.

“And I certainly get a great feeling of pride as I see the wonderful way the staff here goes about taking care of their jobs and taking care of their other responsibilities.

“The second benefit is that I can meet with the patients and understand how well we are doing for them. And sometimes I find things we can do better.”

The local command, too, gets something from the visit, he said in the release.

“I think it may benefit the command by showing them that the leadership of Navy medicine is committed to them — committed to helping them do whatever needs to be done to help them do their job,” he said. “And, frankly, it gives me a chance to show them that I care.”

Cowan said the focus of Navy medicine has changed over the years. He said the Navy now supports “preventative medicine, as opposed to just intervening when there is a disease or injury.”

He also said that Keflavik’s medical personnel, because of their location, must be flexible in handling various emergencies — such as sea rescues — as well as other duties.

“We do have a small command sitting in a fairly remote environment with all of the challenges and uncertainty of that,” he was quoted saying. “Yet the staff here still provides compassionate, comprehensive health care to their beneficiaries.”

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