Petty Officer 1st Class Doyle Stanley, a 12-year Navy man who has been partially debilitated by a virulent staph infection that began after sinus surgery by naval doctors, will get the "best medical care the Navy can muster," even if that care has to come from a civilian doctor, the secretary of the Navy promised yesterday.

In a prepared statement, John Lehman said Stanley would be assigned for medical treatment at Portsmouth (Va.) Naval Hospital and for limited active duty at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. The Navy would search for the best doctor for his case, "including bringing in consultants from the Navy and civilian medical community," according to the statement.

"What this means is that if the best doctor for this case is stationed at Okinawa, we'll bring him from Okinawa," said Lt. Stephen Pietropaoli, a Navy spokesman. "And if our best on board do not have the expertise for this case, then we'll bring in the best we can find in the civilian community."

Stanley, contacted at his home in Virginia Beach, said he was pleased with the decision: "He said he'd get me the best and I believe he was sincere."

Stanley, 29, underwent surgery two years ago at Jacksonville Regional Medical Center for a benign bone tumor in his sinus. Since that time, he repeatedly has sought medical help at naval hospitals in Jacksonville, Bethesda and Portsmouth to battle a staph infection that began after the surgery.

The infection went undetected until a private doctor, whom Stanley consulted, diagnosed it. In the course of treatment, Stanley lost part of his skull and was later recommended for retirement -- against his wishes -- with 50 percent disability pay. His ordeal was chronicled last week in The Washington Post.

Lehman became interested in the case and said at mid-week that Stanley did not have to retire. A retirement board ruled later in the week that if Stanley did want to retire, his disability should be increased to 90 percent.