Calling children “our soldiers’ most important family members,” Col. Ronald Place, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, welcomed guests filling Winn Army Community Hospital’s pediatric clinic Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Today marks the completion of our transition to Patient-Centered Medical Homes for Winn’s primary care clinics,” Place told guests. “For those of us who’ve been deployed, the one thing we worry about is our kids. The thing that’s hard (for a soldier) to deal with is when there’s a problem with (his or her) kids.”
Place said the medical-home model allows caregivers to partner with the patient and family members to create a proactive, individualized health-care plan.
Among special guests present for the ceremony was Col. Carol A. Newman, a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner and patient-centered medical-home lead for the Southern Regional Medical Command. Also present was Col. Mark Reeves, director of the Army Medical Command Primary Care Medical Home Task Force, who talked about the need for better health care for soldiers’ families.
Reeves told guests one reason for moving to the medical-home model was costs savings. He said 17 percent of the Department of Defense budget is for health care.
“It cost four times more to take care of a child with mild asthma in the emergency room than here in a medical home,” he said, explaining there is a difference between military medicine and medicine for the military. “Patient-centered medical homes provide the continuity of care our soldiers need.”
Lt. Col. Amy Young, chief of Winn’s department of primary care, reminded guests her staff members at the pediatric clinic already were putting their patients first, which made the transition to the medical-home model much easier.
“We’ve had a long tradition of taking care of soldiers’ families,” she said. “Now we have aligned our patients and their families with a medical manager. We have a new look with added staff. This (model) is already giving them tools to give a higher quality of care.”
She explained the patient-friendly environments of the two medical homes, the Outback Team and Safari Team, consist of a health-care provider and two licensed practical nurses. There also is a support staff of registered nurses, medics, a medical-support specialist and a care coordinator.
Just prior to the ribbon cutting, Andy Stewart, clinical workforce analyst at Winn, offered remarks from a former soldiers’ perspective. He supported his statements with stories about his wife having to deal with a son who got a popcorn kernel imbedded in his tooth and a daughter who got a dime stuck up her nose, both while he was deployed.
“You guys embody what a soldier needs to happen for his family,” the former field artillery soldier said. “A soldier in combat needs to be focused on his mission. Patient-centered medical homes allow people to do their job and do it right.”
Present for the ribbon cutting were Place, Young, Reeves and Samantha Lovelace, 5, daughter of Capt. Amber Lovelace, officer in charge of the pediatric clinic. Rayford Sanders, 3, was supposed to help cut the ribbon, but he chose to stay near the back row with his mom, Sgt. 1st Class Melinda Sanders, noncommissioned officer in charge of the primary-care department. Also in the back row were head nurse Melisa Lyle, Lovelace and Staff Sgt. Shawn Campbell, NCOIC of the pediatric clinic.