KMC integrates primary health care services

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***Next summer Landstuhl Regional Medical Center will focus its efforts on specialty care, while the Ramstein clinic becomes the primary care center for the KMC.

The concept, which began two-and-a-half years ago, is designed to help integrate health care in the KMC. Sending Landstuhl patients who do not require specialized care to Ramstein will free up staff to devote even more resources to specialty care.

“We are putting the primary care specialists in one spot where the bulk of the population is,” said Col. Carol Vermillion, 435th Medical Group commander. “It’s going to impact patients in a positive way by improving care.”

Currently the Ramstein clinic provides family practice care to 12,000 patients and 3,500 pediatrics patients. The integration will add an additional 6,000 family practice and 3,300 pediatrics patients from Landstuhl. In turn, Ramstein will transfer the Women’s Health Care Initiative and Kapaun will transfer its Pediatric Behavioral Medicine clinic to Landstuhl.

Aside from the bulk of the population being there, the decision to move the two clinics to Ramstein was because of the primary care model the Air Force developed. Called a primary care element, it utilizes a team of one doctor, one nurse, two medical technicians and an administrative assistant. Each team cares for a set number of patients, ensuring that patients will see the same provider each time. It builds relationships between the doctor and patient and fosters better care, said Colonel Vermillion.

The organizations also have combined TRICARE service centers, standardizing the system between Ramstein and Landstuhl, which in the past was not the case, said Colonel Vermillion.

The integration will require an additional wing to be built onto the existing Ramstein Family Practice Clinic, Bldg. 2114. The additional wing will cost $800,000.

In addition, Landstuhl will send 32 doctors, nurses and medical technicians to Ramstein. Eleven Air Force personnel currently working at the center will transfer to Ramstein. Aside from lateral movement of personnel, there will be no staff increases.

“I think this will be a trend in the future of military medicine,” said Col. Todd Hess, deputy commander of clinical services at LRMC. “It makes a lot more sense and gets rid of redundancies. I think it will be much simpler.”
One such current redundancy is the two pharmacies, which both stock family practice medicines.

“You can save a lot of money if you have one pharmacy and order twice as much,” said Colonel Hess.

“This joint concept is spreading,” said Colonel Vermillion. “We are leading the way and are the first organizations to make it this far. Everyone is looking to us, so we want to make it as effective as possible.”