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News | Jan. 4, 2021

WRNMMC Surgeon Recognized by AMSUS

By Monica Vereen, WRNMMC Office of Command Communications

Army Maj. (Dr.) Steve Hong received the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) Physician Award during the 2020 AMSUS Awards ceremony held recently.  

Army Col. (Dr.) Andrew Barr, director of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), joined by Army Col. (Dr.) B. Kyle Potter, WRNMMC director for Surgical Services and Army Col. (Dr.) Daniel Gallagher, department chief for WRNMMC surgery department, presented the award to Hong, WRNMMC chief of Head and Neck Oncologic and Reconstructive Surgery, for his efforts in developing the COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber (CAMIC). 

Barr praised Hong as an “outstanding and innovative provider [who] showed his absolute dedication to duty by helping to design the CAMIC, the only FDA Emergency Use Authorized product to provide an extra layer of barrier protection to prevent the exposure of airborne particulates to healthcare providers as they are caring for patients.” Hong, who has been tapped for promotion to lieutenant colonel in the coming months, received the award virtually with family members joining from individual locations. 

Hong’s presence at the awards ceremony was unwittingly jeopardized when he deleted the notification email, mistakenly thinking the request for personal information was a phishing attempt. It was only after a member of [his] “command and someone from the [Army] Surgeon General’s office contacted (him)” that Hong “figured it was likely not a scam.” When his wife “got wind of the [award] from a co-worker [she] shared the news on social media with the rest of the family” and they all reveled in the excitement. 

Despite his family’s enthusiasm, Hong remains grounded. “The award is great recognition, but I think it really speaks more for my department, the institution, and my teammates than for myself.” Hong goes on to say, he has “been fortunate enough to realize that things don’t just happen in a vacuum or due to one singular individual” but can be dependent on “environment, luck, and timing of certain opportunities.”

The physician furthered, “I am driven by this insatiable curiosity and desire to lean forward in providing the best and latest technologies for medical care for our patients and wounded warriors.” In fact, Hong is already developing his next project, integrating machine learning and neural networks into telesurgical robots. “This will allow surgeons…to control semi-autonomous surgical robots out on the battlefield, [in support of] humanitarian crises, [or] in outer space, demonstrating to the world once again that military medicine is at the tip of the spear in terms of innovation.”
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