|Chapter Leaders Reception & Mongolian BBQ at the Historic Hickam Officer's Club|
|Col Kara Gormont, USAF, MSC|
The Air Force clinic, located on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, is named after Lt William R. Schick, the first U.S. flight surgeon to die in combat on 7 December 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time of the attack, the clinic was known as the Hickam Station Hospital. The facility had recently been built and opened just a few months before the attack. The hospital had a 40-bed capacity and was staffed with seven medical officers, five dentists, seven nurses, and forty enlisted personnel. Lt Schick was not one of those assigned medical officers.
Lt Schick was a midwestern farm boy who overcame economic hardship, common in the depression era, to realize his dream of becoming a physician. After graduating medical school, he joined the Army, wanting to give back as tensions between America and Japan began to heat up. Lt Schick was assigned to a reconnaissance squadron, and was directed to report with his squadron to Clark Field in the Philippines. He was on one of the B-17s being redirected to the Philippines as they prepared to land at Hickam Airfield on the morning of 7 December 1941. Little did they know that as they were approaching, so too were the Japanese bombers.
As they prepared to land, the Japanese began to fire at the B-17s which, due to an administrative error, did not have live munitions loaded, leaving them defenseless. The B-17 that Schick was on was hit, and he was injured as the plane landed and broke apart from the damage it had sustained. LT Schick was taken to the Hickam Station Hospital, but knowing that his injuries were severe, placing the needs of other above his own and at a cost of great pain to himself, Lt Schick refused treatment and redirected the effort of the Hickam Station Hospital medical staff to take care of those around him. Perhaps he was aware that his fate was imminent, because Lt Schick soon passed away. His heroism and selflessness in the face of danger are why later efforts were made to rename the Hickam Station Hospital, the Lt William R. Schick Clinic.
On 20 May 2019, almost 40 military members, and members of the Hawaii Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, met at the clinic on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to learn about Lt Schick’s story, as well as many other of the clinic’s heroes. The historian, Ms. Jessie Higa, was also present and shared countless stories with the members present that night. The history of the bombing of Pearl Harbor has many lessons that remain important to the military members of Hawaii, as well as the community, as we prepare for potential future conflict. We can learn from this day about the selfless sacrifice, clinical competency, and commitment that the staff demonstrated to solving critical problems as they worked tirelessly to save lives.
When living in Hawaii it is easy to get lost in paradise. Life is filled with Aloha and Mahalo for each other, and all that we are so lucky to enjoy on this beautiful island in the Pacific. But, the health of our community and the stability of our world are not always guaranteed. Working to bring together our military healthcare leaders, with our community healthcare leaders, is one way that the American College of Healthcare Executives' Hawaii Chapter helps to prepare our community for the challenges that might be ahead; not just a military conflict such as the attack of Pearl Harbor, but many other challenges such as accessible and affordable care, quality of care initiatives, communication and support challenges, retention and recruiting barriers, as well as community concerns such as equitable salaries and affordable housing. All of these issues concern healthcare leaders, no matter if they are on the military or civilian side of delivering care. Our healthcare network is challenged by every day stressors such as these, and opportunities such as this night give ACHE HI Chapter healthcare leaders an opportunity to get to know each other, form bonds, share stories, and even some “Ono Grindz.” This night after hearing the story of our historical healthcare leaders, the group went to the Historic Hickam Officer’s Club where they watched the sunset over Pearl Harbor and enjoyed fabulous Mongolian BBQ. Solving our island’s military and civilian healthcare problems is always better with sunsets, good food, good friends, and Aloha.