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Change of Charge ceremony held at Naval Branch Health Clinic

By Art Powell | | March 26, 2009

Cmdr. Chidi U. Ekenna-Kalu was named officer-in-charge, Naval Branch Health Clinic, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., in a ceremony conducted here March 16.

Ekenna-Kalu replaced Lt. Cmdr. Steven Shadley, outgoing, OIC, NBHC, who is leaving the post after 20 months of service.

“Lieutenant Commander Shadley is deploying to Afghanistan and I think that’s reflective of the change in our mission since September 11 in that many of our staff are forward deployed supporting the military forces out there and also for nation building,” said Capt. Bruce L. Gillingham, commanding officer, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Fla. “His job will be to help establish health clinics in Afghanistan.”

Gillingham cited the importance of assisting in nation building overseas but also looked at the local job done by the personnel at NBHC here.

“We think the personnel here at the Albany Naval Branch Health Clinic do a great job for the Marine Corps Logistics Base and we feel that mission is very important,” he said.

“We have many goals already in place and what I want to do is continue with those goals and improve what we need to improve and change as events come up,” said Ekenna-Kalu upon assuming the responsibilities of officer-in-charge. “Because, in the military, you need to be ready for changes.”

The new officer-in-charge discussed the value of already being established at the clinic, where she is the resident optometrist.

“I already have an office here and I know the staff. It will be different for me, though, being the officer-in-charge and the optometrist. But it won’t be as difficult as if I were coming here with a very short notice,” said Ekenna-Kalu, who was commissioned in 1989.

According to Ekenna-Kalu, “The hardest thing will be switching from critical care provider to officer-in-charge, so that’s what I’ll be working on.”

She said there was a lot for her to learn but she had a “lot of help” available.

Upon relinquishing command, Shadley said he had mixed emotions.

“I’m feeling good about my next assignment but I am also sad about leaving a group of people that I’ve worked with for a while. But that’s what the military is all about, you come and go and I’m looking forward to the next assignment,” he said.

Shadley explained that he’s taking the experience he’s gained at the NBHC with him as he heads overseas.

“My job will be to go out and help the Afghani people build clinics and a health care system. So, I’m looking forward to taking the knowledge I’ve gained here, and in other past assignments, over to Afghanistan to help them establish quality healthcare,” Shadley said.

Shadley, who has worked at NBHC for nearly two years, reflected on his time here as the OIC.

“Working here has been challenging and rewarding. It has been good and bad, everything that comes with leadership. But most of all, it has been a learning experience. I had been a division officer, which is a step below being officer in charge, so coming here to lead the 46 excellent staff members and help the Marines has been very rewarding for me,” Shadley said.

Shadley is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this year.