It started more
than 175 years ago - right after the state of Florida got
out of diapers. Today, Naval Hospital Pensacola is among
one of the oldest and most respected Navy medical
facilities in the country.
The new fledgling Naval Hospital Pensacola command got off
to its start in 1826, months after President John Quincy
Adams assigned the first surgeon, and officer in charge,
to establish a hospital at the Pensacola Navy Yard.
Navy surgeon Isaac Hulse managed to begin the
establishment of a Naval Hospital at the Navy Yard by
renting a 2-story house, used as a temporary medical
facility, for $30 a month. The home was located in the
shade of the live-oak woods north of Barrancas not far
from Bayou Grande.
The Senior Medical Officer, a native of Long Island, NY,
spent 19 of his 33-year Navy career in Pensacola. He
initially was on the medical staff of the West India
Squadron at the Navy Yard.
Although the establishment of Naval Hospital Pensacola was
authorized in the 1811 Act, which also provided for the
Naval Hospital Fund, a permanent facility was not
completed until 1834 - due to military construction
When the first hospital was completed, at a cost of nearly
$12,000, it was located about three-quarters of a mile
from the Navy Yard on a 30-foot bluff. It was described as
being 'outside the wall' of the Navy Yard. However, the
hospital established its own wall - which can be seen
today at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. It was a
12-foot-high brick facade enclosing the entire 15-acre
Rumor has it, the wall was constructed to keep mosquitoes
from infecting patients with malaria and yellow fever. It
was “supposedly believed” at the time that these
flying pests were unable to fly above eight feet from the
It's an urban legend because it wasn't until the late
1890's that military medicine researchers discovered the
connection between the diseases and mosquitoes. The wall
was likely constructed merely as protection against
unauthorized persons on Navy property or possible
'intrusion' from the sea.
The current Naval Hospital also has an outside wall around
its compound. It was completed in 1976, and continues its
mission of providing healthcare and health promotion
throughout the region.
For more than 30 years, NH Pensacola has been a
"teaching hospital." It is home to one of the
Navy's Family Practice Residency training programs where
doctors come to earn their Family Practice specialty
during three years of academic and hands-on training.
The residency program prepares one for a practice in
family medicine, and encompasses all fields of practice.
During residency training, the emphasis is on continuity
of comprehensive care for the entire family, including
emergency, surgical, obstetric, and inpatient and
The residency training program is fully accredited by the
Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The Director of Residency Training and the Graduate
Medical Education Coordinator coordinate a diverse group
of training rotations for the residents at the Naval
Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, Keesler (AFB) Medical
Center in Biloxi and the Naval Home in Gulfport, MS.
IN THE PAST YEARS, the Naval Hospital has taken on a
significant readiness mission with the establishment of
Fleet Hospital Pensacola. FH Pensacola is a fully
deployable unit of more than 900 personnel that could be
called upon to support American military and humanitarian
The unit, renamed Fleet Hospital 3 while in theater, most
recently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
establishing itself as the first-ever Navy field hospital
to establish an Expeditionary Medical Facility in a combat
Also, numerous other Naval Hospital staff members are
assigned to support U.S. Marines in the field with the 3rd
Fleet Service Support Group (FSSG). Both the Fleet
Hospital and 3rd FSSG units are deployable. Yet, the Fleet
Hospital is the only deployable Navy military unit within
the Pensacola Naval Complex.
In 2001, the newest addition to the Naval Hospital was
added: A 2-story, 73,000 square foot Outpatient Clinic was
completed and operational. Among the clinics that have
found new homes are Family Practice, Obstetrics and
Gynecology, Pediatrics, Ears, Nose and Throat,
Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Audiology, Respiratory
Therapy, and Immunizations; plus the Pharmacy and Patient
In January 2003, NH Pensacola earned the Navy Surgeon
General’s “Muddy Boots” award and was selected by
the Picker Institute as the No. 1 hospital in the country
among all military and civilian hospitals – as rated by
patients -- on patient-centered care. The presentations
were made during the opening day of the annual TRICARE
Conference in Washington, DC.
The Navy Surgeon General’s “Mathew J. Bourgeois Force
Health Protection Muddy Boots Award," was presented
by Vice Adm. Michael L. Cowan to NH Pensacola and its 12
branch medical clinics. NH Pensacola was also among the
Navy medicine facilities receiving recognition for being
in the top 10 percent for customer satisfaction.
NH Pensacola also picked up a national Picker Institute
Award as the Benchmark Hospital for the Continuity and
Transition Dimension of Care (11 Health Systems, 122
Hospitals, 39,860 patient survey responses) category.
“The award, in recognition of Naval Hospital Pensacola
being the No. 1 hospital in the country among all the
military and civilian hospitals rated by patients on this
dimension of patient-centeredness, makes us proud of our
efforts to date and inspires us to continue our commitment
to providing health services at world-class levels,”
said Commanding Officer, Capt. Richard L. Buck, MC.
The Picker Institute is national not-for-profit entity
dedicated solely to developing a patient-centered research
approach to performance measurement. The Institute was
founded by Harvey and Jean Picker whose family refined and
marketed early and subsequent x-ray machines.
NH Pensacola has been at the forefront of Navy
medicine’s Force Health Protection initiatives with a
myriad of programs that implement and maximize the aspects
of Force Health Protection. The ‘Muddy Boots’
symbolize the hospital's daily operations and strategic
The bronzed ‘Muddy Boots’ were the actual boots worn
by Navy SEAL and Chief Hospital Corpsman Matthew J.
Bourgeois, 35, of Tallahassee, Fla., who was killed while
conducting small-unit training at a remote site near
Qandahar, Afghanistan, in March 2002.
“Displaying these boots and honoring Chief Bourgeois,
who made the supreme sacrifice for our country, will be a
source of inspiration to us to continue to improve our
Force Health Protection efforts,” continued Capt. Buck.
“In support of the mission of Force Health
Protection,” said Capt. Buck, “our goals are to
provide health services that are safe, effective,
patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable.
phone numbers: Commercial (850)505-6601 or
address: 6000 W. Highway 98, Pensacola, FL
About 2,100 active duty and civilians
lodging: See Pensacola NAS, Corry Station