March 11, 2002
Son of Duvall couple serves at Navy's oldest hospital
by Jacky Fisher
PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Portsmouth Naval Hospital is the United States Navy's first and oldest hospital, having provided continuous care to military personnel, retirees and family members since 1830. Carrying on the tradition, the $330 million Charette Health Care Center, completed in 1999, is now the centerpiece of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP). The three-year-old medical center houses 360 beds and cares for a daily average of almost 240 inpatients in its one million square foot state-of-the-art care facility.
It takes an enormous staff of highly trained military and civilian medical and support personnel to operate the hospital on a daily basis. One such member is Navy Cmdr. Charles D. Bissell, son of Theodore and Mary Bissell of Duvall.
"I am a general surgeon with formal training in advanced laparoscopy," said the 1990 University of Michigan graduate. "During wartime and in peace, my primary responsibility is to keep the active duty member healthy to fight and do their jobs. I also train residents and care for retired and family members."
Bissell joined the Navy in June of 1990. "After seeing the American Legionnaires of Buckeye Boys State in high school, I felt that I owed the country time for the freedom and liberties we enjoy," explained the commissioned officer and husband to the former Noelle Scaldara.
Along with the pride and unparalleled benefits associated with serving in the world's finest Navy, building memories of a lifetime is also a unique opportunity for those who choose to wear the Navy uniform.
"One memorable time was when serving as a flight surgeon with Carrier Airwing Five in Japan. Going to sea on an aircraft carrier was an adventure and flying in our jets was an amazing experience."
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth has 200 staff physicians and dentists, 500 nurses and 3,200 health care and support personnel.
The hospital also has seven branch medical clinics throughout the Hampton Roads area, responsible for a population of almost half a million active duty and retired military personnel from all branches of the service, as well as their family members.
With over 50 departments in the hospital ranging from anesthesiology and cardiology to internal medicine, nuclear medicine and oncology, the hospital staff alone cares for well over one million outpatients annually.
With all the responsibilities these sailors have, their training and experience teach them invaluable lessons.
"I have received excellent surgical training at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The Navy facilitated my fellowship in advanced laparoscopy in Houston," said Bissell. "I have traveled worldwide, been stationed in foreign countries and have worked on different Naval platforms."
The staff of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth plays a vital role in the daily health and well-being of the United States armed forces and their families.
These sailors are also keeping their eyes on the future; after all, almost 5,000 babies are born at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth every year.
Jacky Fisher is a public affairs officer at the Public Affairs Center in Norfolk,Va.