FORT BLISS, Texas – It is time for your appointment. You drive around the parking lot at the clinic to find a space. Once inside, you stand in line to check-in for your appointment, just to have to sit and wait for your name to be called so the nurse can check your blood pressure and temperature.
Then, it is back to the waiting room to wait for the doctor to be available.
It is a scene many of us here go through every time we need to get a check-up or have a prescription refilled, and sometimes our cellphone battery just doesn’t last long enough.
But the William Beaumont Army Medical Center here is working to improve care for Soldiers and Family members with the opening of the East Bliss Health and Dental Clinic, Nov. 19, in building 21227 Torch Street.
The new clinic will provide care to the soldiers assigned to the three brigades nearby: 3rd Brigade, 212th Fires Brigade and 15th Sustainment Brigade.
The primary care providers at the clinic will be the physicians, physician assistants and combat medics assigned to the brigades, in addition to nurses and civilian technicians, who will all work together as a team to manage the health of their patients.
“It really becomes the medical home for those brigades and the Soldiers assigned to them,” said Col. Michael Heimall, the commander of WBAMC. “It is a place for unit physician assistants to be able to provide full spectrum care for their Soldiers and to provide some clinic based training for their medics, while they make sure their units are medically ready to deploy.”
To help ensure unit readiness, the clinic follows a new method of care called the Patient-Centered Medical Home model that is designed to improve access and quality of care to patients.
“Patient-Centered Medical Home is a model of care with a medical treatment facility combined with a dental facility,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Cyr, the sergeant major of WBAMC. “It centers all of the care on you, the patient. It allows for a better continuity of care where you stay with the same provider.”
This model of care will include the staff at the clinic and the patient working together to manage the patient’s health and to educate Soldiers on their own health care.
“In the past, a lot of the responsibility for the care of the patient fell on the provider to make sure the Soldier attended their appointments and had medical tests done,” said Maj. Vu Nguyen, the officer in charge of the new clinic. “With this Soldier-Centered Medical Home, the provider has a team that he works with toward the care of a particular Soldier. A nurse may make appointments while other members of the team will ensure the Soldier is notified prior to the scheduled date. It is not completely on the provider to make sure all of these things are done for the management of a soldier’s care.”
With a staff of more than 50 personnel, the clinic will provide services for primary care, well-woman exams, radiology, pharmacy, behavioral health, preventive medicine and physical therapy, with all of the departments working together in one building.
The clinic will also have some new, state-of-the-art equipment such as an anti-gravity treadmill for physical therapy, but the most noticed addition may be the new kiosks located at the reception desk.
“The new Q-Flow kiosk machine will help facilitate our work flow,” said Nguyen. “From patient feedback, a lot of the problems found were the long lines to check-in.”
These machines will allow Soldiers to indicate why they are at the clinic and receive a number to be called for them to check-in to an appointment or the pharmacy. The clinic also has plans to expand the capabilities of the kiosks.
“Once it is fully integrated, they will be able to check-in for their appointment without waiting to see a receptionist,” said Nguyen.
“Wait time is a function of available providers and the 1st AD has about a third of the primary care capability on Fort Bliss,” said Heimall. “If that primary care capability is efficiently taking care of the soldiers, it frees up our staff to take care of their Family members.”
The families and dependents of the soldiers will continue to use other facilities, such as the Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza Soldier Family Care Center. The East Bliss Health and Dental Clinic will only care for Soldiers.
“The only thing I ask from 3rd Bde., 212th Fires, or 15th Sustainment is that their providers take care of the primary care needs of their soldiers so that I can dedicate the resources of William Beaumont to soldiers in a unit without an assigned provider or to the families of the soldiers who are here,” said Heimall.