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NAPLES, Italy — Patients rated the U.S. Naval Hospital in Naples, and its health clinics, the best out of all the U.S. military medical treatment facilities outside of the U.S., Navy officials said.

“We’ve made patient satisfaction everyone’s jobs, not just the providers,” said Navy Capt. Mark Bernier, the hospital’s executive officer.

The Pentagon and Tricare Management Activity contracted with the Picker Institute, an independent, not-for-profit organization, to survey patients of military medical facilities worldwide. Hospitals usually see a 40 percent participation rate.

The honor earned the Naples hospital and its clinics a $25,000 prize.

“We’re blessed with a fairly new building and a lot of the best of everything already,” Bernier said.

The 180,000-square-foot facility opened July 2003 at the support site base in Gricignano. The satisfaction survey included clinics at the Capodichino base in Naples; La Maddalena in Sardinia; Gaeta, near Formia; and St. Mawgan, in England.

No decisions have been made on how to spend the money, but a key area for improvement is the hospital’s appointment-booking telephone system, which at times is clogged, giving patients a busy signal, he said. The hospital also is developing a program so patients can book appointments online, Bernier said.

The survey measured patient satisfaction from booking appointments through the end of their medical care, Bernier said. Last year, Naples hospital and its clinics logged 80,000 “encounters,” he said, which include patients who return for a follow-up visit for the same ailment.

Rebecca Eusey visited the hospital upon arriving at Naples in spring 2006 and coming down with the “Naples crud,” ailments of her body getting accustomed to the change in climate, water, food, etc. Her hospital visit “went very well. The staff was very professional and I received the same standard care as expected in North America,” said the Canada native.

“Medical care in Italy is not a choice, it’s a lack of options,” said Eusey, site manager for University of Oklahoma’s office in Naples. “I am not going to go to an Italian hospital. So I feel great that the option I do have being so top-notch.”

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