Military retirees and family members have an additional health-care option that enables them to receive “continuity of care,” according to Col. Ronald J. Place, commander of Winn Army Community Hospital and U.S. Army Medical and Dental Activities Command for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield. The Richmond Hill Medical Home, a community-based clinic that opened its doors in March, now is open to military retirees and their family members, Place said.
“The Army is moving to the ‘medical home’ model,” he said. “Right now, we’ve been able to open our Tuttle Clinic (at Hunter) and this clinic to retirees and family members. This clinic has a capacity for about 8,000 patients, and right now it has about 5,500 enrolled.”
Place said opening the Richmond Hill Medical Home and Tuttle Clinic to retirees and their family members, who tend to be older, benefits both the patients and the health-care providers, who get to see a different spectrum of injuries and illnesses than those they’d normally see with active-duty soldiers and their family members, who tend to be younger. And because all the health-care providers at Richmond Hill Medical Home are civilians, he said patients can expect to see the same health-care provider from one visit to the next because he or she is not going to be deployed or reassigned to a new duty station.
Michael O’Gorman, group practice manager for the Richmond Hill clinic, said nearly half of the patients seen at his clinic are 18 or younger. He said the clinic has seven family-practice providers, including a pediatrician and a clinical psychologist. It also has a lab and a pharmacy, and behavior health and radiological services are available. Most notably, O’Gorman said, because their medical team uses wireless technology, prescriptions ordered by the health-care provider are processed right away, usually with no more than a 10-minute wait at the pharmacy.
“Our intent is for the patient to have a relationship with our primary-care team,” he said. “During a patient’s first or intake appointment, he or she is likely to spend 40 minutes to an hour with the doctor. We’re looking for a continuous relationship so we can coordinate our patients’ care and earn their trust.”
Richmond Hill Medical Home Medical Director Robert C. Madonna Jr. admits that he is a civilian and always has been a civilian but that he thoroughly enjoys working with military family members, retirees and their family members.
“It’s been really rewarding,” Madonna said, noting that he recognizes a difference in the medical needs of military families compared with nonmilitary families, if only because they have to endure repeated deployments of their spouses. “The stress these families have been under is unbelievable. We see it and try to help out when we can.”
Madonna said stress doesn’t always show itself in mental or emotional disorders but physical problems as well, including problems with the digestive tract such as ulcers or acid reflux. It also can cause migraine headaches, he said. Madonna said his staff first tries to win the trust of each patient, then get the patient to work with him or her to provide the best health-care treatment.
The Richmond Hill Medical Home is in Richmond Hill near the intersection of U.S. 17 and GA 144 behind 32 Degrees Frozen Yogurt. For more information or to request switching medical enrollment, call 912-435-7464.