Baumholder clinic adjusts to transformation with new Soldier-centered care

by Stefan Alford
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public Affairs

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — While the military population around Baumholder is decreasing with the deactivation of the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Oct. 9 and the continuing relocation of its remaining troops, the Baumholder Army Health Clinic is actually gearing up to start seeing more patients as a result of the transformation.

The incongruity is due to a cultural shift in access to care, which changes the way incoming Soldiers are seen for health care services. The new program is being spearheaded by the clinic’s recently arrived commander.

“The Army teaches us not to make any major changes within 90 days of taking command, but we don’t have a choice as events are driving us to adopt the new Soldier Centered Medical Home concept ahead of most,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Edward Bailey, who assumed command of the clinic June 29. The Army is still in the initial stages of implementing the SCMH model across its military treatment facilities.

Previously, the 170th IBCT had its own brigade surgeon, and its subordinate units had their own battalion aid stations to take care of their Soldiers’ basic health care needs.

Over the course of the next fiscal year, however, a number of smaller units without self-contained medical capability will be repositioned at Baumholder and those troops will be enrolled into the clinic’s Soldier-centered program.

“The benefits are that it will allow us to have one standard (for the installation) and to provide all medical care under one roof,” said Bailey, explaining the comprehensive coverage for Soldiers is similar to the Patient Centered
Medical Home program where each patient is partnered with a team of health care providers — physicians, nurses, behavioral health professionals, pharmacists and others — to develop an encompassing, personal health care plan.

The health care team then works with each Soldier over time to take care of health issues as they arise, ensure delivery of prevention screening and services, manage chronic conditions, and promote a spirit of health, wellness and trust.

“The same providers who see the Soldier’s family members, will now see the Soldiers as well,” added Bailey, explaining the continuity of care will make it easier to correlate certain health issues or illnesses within the family and offer better overall preventive medicine care.

The enrollment of all incoming Soldiers is a major change to clinic operations for Bailey and his staff of approximately 100 military, Army civilian and local
national employees — but it’s not the only new program he’s brought online.

The new commander, a former combat medic prior to being commissioned in 1993, also oversaw the implementation of a secure messaging system at the clinic at the end of July.

The clinic’s 7,000-plus beneficiaries, including retirees, can now consult with their medical team via email about non-urgent health matters, to request appointments and referrals, renew prescriptions, and receive test and laboratory results.
To sign up for the encrypted, secure messaging service through the contracted Relay Health system, beneficiaries provide their personal email address to their primary care clinic and will then receive an email invitation to join the service.
So, while there have been some changes within those first 90 days of Bailey’s command, he views the new initiatives as “opportunities toward full integration.”

The bottom line, he said, is that “we’ll continue to offer the same quality care for our beneficiaries during this period of transformation.”