Teamwork works for military and civilians

Published 10:21 pm Friday, September 25, 2015

By Chris A. Quilpa

My first travel abroad was to Rome in 1980, where I attended the Genfest of the Focolare Movement, an international religious organization, founded by the late Chiara Lubich, that promotes the ideal of unity and universal brotherhood.

Genfest is a meeting place for young people from around the world who want to show that universal brotherhood, a united world, is an ideal worth living for.

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There was teamwork in that Genfest 1980 that drew about 40,000 young people from different parts of the world.

I often look back and ponder what my life would have been like had I not realized my dream of joining and then retiring from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of honorable service.

I was proud to have worn the uniform with dignity and professionalism. I was courageous to give up my life defending my adopted country, America. In my 20 years of naval service, I have been a team player.

Without reservation, I did my best to help accomplish our mission: providing logistical and manpower and medical support to all branches of our armed forces, working with my fellow sailors to provide quality health care and treating armed forces personnel and their family members with utmost professionalism and care.

Seeing our patients recover when they came for follow-up visits was such a joy. That was the product of team efforts by all departments involved in the overall health care system.

From one duty station to another (naval hospitals in San Diego and Guam, the naval medical clinic in Seattle and the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth), I did my best to be a team player. My focus was our patients, expediting them and reducing their waiting time for service.

Aside from providing X-ray exams and procedures, I did other work beyond the call of duty. I’ve written and published articles about what was happening in our clinic and at NMCP’s radiology department. I profiled outstanding sailors deserving of awards. And I participated in various command functions and volunteered in various activities or partnerships our command was involved in, like Excellence in Education.

I learned that teamwork is and will always be the key to a successful mission accomplishment, whether we’re at peace or war, in the battlefield or within the confines of a ship, a clinic, a hospital or a military base.

While serving at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, the first, finest and oldest naval hospital in our country, my fellow sailors and I worked as a team in healthcare delivery, providing quality customer service to all who visited our medical facility.

Teamwork works, because it takes many hands working together to accomplish a goal, the treatment or recovery of our patients.

Teamwork is also observed in the civilian sector. Even in sports, teamwork is evident for the success and victory of the team. The concept “Treat Everyone As Me” is likened to the Golden Rule, which is a basic principle that we should all follow to ensure success in any particular activity. From Matthew 7:12 comes the biblical rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

TEAM works because of its universal appeal. If it’s applicable here in our country, it is also employable everywhere. Delivery of quality care is enhanced because of this strategy to boost morale among military members, civilian employees and beneficiaries.

Patients, whether outpatient or inpatient, are treated the way we, healthcare providers, want to be treated. Individuals are not mere numbers or statistics but human beings. Yes, we treat everyone, who comes to see us, the way we want to be treated. That’s quality care, excellent service.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at