Fort Polk’s Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital command was passed from Col. Marla J. Ferguson, outgoing commander, to Col. Jody Dugai, incoming commander, at a change of command ceremony May 29 at Fort Polk’s Warrior Field.

As part of the official party for the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Johnson, United States Army Regional Health Command Central, commanding general, said it was a wonderful day to be at Fort Polk to help transition two great leaders, as well as honor the achievements of an institution that does so much for its patients — both military and civilian.

Johnson said that for more than 75 years, BJACH has fostered a culture of medical excellence in Louisiana. “Today, BJACH is an integrated team of military and civilian health professionals who make history every day,” he said.

Johnson praised Ferguson’s accomplishments while commander at BJACH. “Ferguson and her team of more than 700 Soldiers, civilians and contractors have worked hard to meet the requirements of the more than 65,000 troops who rotate through JRTC each year, in addition to taking care of their Fort Polk patients,” he said.

Johnson said Ferguson has developed new standards, policies and programs and supervised health-care support to Soldiers and units who participated in field training exercises.

“As an example of one policy, she has had an impact on minimizing heat injuries in the last year, helping to conserve Soldier’s fighting strength,” he said.

From a quality perspective, during her time as commander, Johnson said Ferguson led BJACH through the Joint Commission Accreditation process. “The Joint Commission provided a benchmark for validating the quality and competency of every aspect of care that takes place at Fort Polk as personnel provide care for this community,” he said.

BJACH is now accredited. “That should allow people to sleep better tonight,” said Johnson.

Ferguson also focused on safety for Soldiers and civilians that work in the hospital, as well as each patient that walked through BJACH’s doors, said Johnson.

“During her tenure here, the hospital was recognized as an Army safety site and occupational health star site — the accumulation of a three-year effort and the 243 separate safety tasks. Less than 10 percent of the Army’s units have been recognized with this designation,” he said.

Johnson said Ferguson and her staff have elevated the level of care at BJACH. “Your contributions set the standard for safety and excellence, touching many lives along the way,” he said. “You leave a legacy at BJACH having shown unwavering professionalism, integrity and dedication to duty as a highly successful and visionary leader.”

Ferguson said it was a bittersweet day.

“It has been an absolute honor to be the commander of Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital and the director of health services for the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk,” she said. “I can’t think of a better mission to support than building readiness for the U.S. Army and supporting the medical readiness of our globally deployable units. It has been a privilege to provide medical support for the 22 infantry brigade combat teams that came to Fort Polk to engage in decisive action against our enemy forces,” she said.

In addition, Ferguson said she is extremely proud of the patient centered care delivered by BJACH’s providers and staff and it was an honor to provide health care services to the Soldiers and Family members at Fort Polk.

“An average day at BJACH consists of approximately 500 primary care appointments, 600 prescriptions filled, 60 emergency department visits, 400 laboratory services, 120 rehabilitation encounters and 60 behavioral health sessions. In addition, we deliver approximately 40 babies per month. The staff does all of this with the quality and safety of our patients at the forefront of their minds, while understanding the unique circumstances of what it means to be a Soldier and Army Family,” she said.

Ferguson said she would remember her time at Fort Polk fondly. “I am proud to say I was part of the Home of Heroes,” she said.

Johnson welcomed Dugai as the newest in a long line of great leaders at BJACH.

“I know that you are the right leader at the right time for BJACH, the region and military medicine. In addition to your knowledge and skill as an emergency and trauma nurse, you possess the leadership necessary to ensure this command continues to excel as an organization through professional development and attention to the important challenges that lie ahead for us as the military health system continues to transition into the future,” he said. “You will champion readiness and oversee this command as a premiere expeditionary and globally integrated medical force. I’m confident in your skills as a leader. Under your guidance the BJACH health- care team will continue to excel in its role as a partner with JRTC and the surrounding communities.”

Dugai said it was with enormous pride that she joined BJACH, JRTC and the Fort Polk Family.

“I am honored and humbled as I stand before you today. BJACH is an incredible unit, but it’s also a team made up of Soldiers, civilians, contractors and Families, each of whom share the triumphs and sacrifices of service to a great nation. Thank you all for what you do and I look forward to serving with you,” she said.