By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton Public Affairs Officer
EVERETT, Wash. - Paraphrasing an old saying, "A rank amateur will waste time in discussing strategy while the wise specialist concentrates on logistical needs."
For an unsuspecting Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Stephen Mathis, his attention to detail in helping fill a gapped logistics specialist billet - and still handle his regular responsibilities – at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Everett, were brought to the attention of command leadership.
Capt. Patrick Fitzpatrick, Naval Hospital Bremerton director and Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command Bremerton commanding officer, recognized Mathis for his personal initiative and professional reliability.
“I felt great about being acknowledged. I was not expecting to get recognized and it was nice to see that I am appreciated,” said the Wylie, Texas, native and a Pine Creek High School Class 2014 graduate.
According to Chief Hospital Corpsman Benjamin Chapin, NMRTU Everett senior enlisted leader, Mathis stepped up to fill the vacant logistics specialist position and made certain the clinic had the crucial supplies needed for providing patient-centered care.
“He placed orders on behalf of the clinic and received pharmacy orders which ensured continuity of care across four departments,” Chapin said, adding that Mathis also conducted timely research on critical care equipment for the clinic’s Dental department which were highlighted during the recent Joint Commission accreditation survey, and proved to be instrumental for changes needed in the standard operating procedure.
Mathis grew up as a military child with an affinity for baseball and hockey. As his family relocating from one assignment to another, he became intrigued at the idea of a career in Navy Medicine bolstered by the favorable impression of Navy doctor, nurses and hospital corpsmen.
Mathis joined the Navy in 2019, and received specialty training to become a dental technician.
“My job supports direct patient care for dental patients and assists with the continuation of care for the rest of the clinic through supply. Getting to help others has been the most gratifying aspect,” explained Mathis, touching upon the proverbial tip-of-the-iceberg in all the responsibilities he has, which also include; assisting health care providers in the prevention and treatment of oral disease and injuries; preparing dental materials and medications; exposing and processing dental X-ray films; rendering emergency dental first aid; instructing patients in oral hygiene; performing dental administrative, handling accounting as well as supply procedures; maintaining treatment records and reports; and providing ‘chair side’ assists to the dentist when providing direct patient care.
The complexity of handling logistical needs has also proven to be an educational lesson as Mathis continues to grow into his assigned duties.
“The steep learning curve for supply has been the most challenging part, but I am blessed to have a great supply team to support me and always answer any questions I have,” stated Mathis. “I have learned that it’s always best to reach out for help whenever you are unsure of the task you need to do.”
Mathis has also gradually settled into his duty station over 2,100 miles from home in helping provide dental care to the nation’s third largest fleet concentration.
“Being a part of NMRTU Everett means being able to support the [operational] mission of all the ships stationed here,” shared Mathis, also expressing a growing affinity for being surrounded by all that the Puget Sound region and Pacific Northwest has to offer.
“Navy Medicine has brought me to one of the best states ever, Washington,” Mathis exclaimed.
When asked to sum up his experience with Navy Medicine, Mathis replied, “The best part of my career has been meeting all of the different people in the Navy. I feel very blessed to be able to work here with Navy Medicine because of all the fantastic people.”