The Europe Regional Medical Command: “Medics Forward” serving an Army in Transition
What is it?
The U.S. Army Europe Regional Medical Command (ERMC) is responsible for providing world-class health care and access to eligible beneficiaries in the European theater, predominantly through joint and Army-centric clinics, hospitals and units that ensure readiness, quality care and proactive measures within the health care community. The ERMC staff fully understands that beneficiaries perceive healthcare as a precious benefit—one that requires exacting tasks in the delivery of the benefit, patient safety at every step of the delivery and development of tangible options whenever the benefit diminishes or disappears.
As the Command Surgeon, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, the ERMC Commander maximizes delivery of medical care through a collaboration with the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, the Europe Regional Dental Command, the Europe Regional Veterinary Command, USA Medical Materiel Center-Europe, the USA Medical Research Unit-Europe, Task Force Med Falcon-Kosovo, 30th Medical Brigade, and the U.S. Air Force and Navy medical units in Europe.
What has the Army done?
The 3,200-strong ERMC staff provides medical care to the U.S. Army Europe, the European Command and the new Africa Command, as well as to wounded Soldiers evacuated from Iraq or Afghanistan. In Europe, the ERMC footprint encompasses a population of more than 108,000, which are the Soldiers and Families across many different countries. DoD civilian employees and contractors, DODDS teachers, and U.S. military retirees are eligible for care, however on a space-available basis. The ERMC staff fully understands the expectations of these beneficiaries and endeavors to maximize its appointment schedules to accommodate as many as possible.
The mission of ERMC is to project and sustain a healthy and medically protected force, deploy trained and equipped medical forces that support U.S. Army and Department of Defense forces worldwide, and manage the healthcare of the Soldiers and Family members.
To project and sustain a healthy and medically protected force, ERMC:
- Helps tactical units achieve a 100 percent readiness rate through medical programs, such as Periodic Health Assessments and pre/post deployment screening.
- Leverages and standardizes best clinical practices of disease population-driven healthcare standards and initiatives (such as diabetes screenings, depression and PTSD screening, Army Substance Abuse Programs, and Wellness) into delivery platforms for world class care for Soldiers.
- Trains and deploys highly competent Soldier-Medics to support the Global War on Terrorism.
- Provides professional training opportunities for providers and medically skilled Soldiers.
- Prepares Soldiers-Medics and medical units for deployment by participating in theater-specific individual readiness training at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels and pre-deployment training either at the Joint Military Readiness Center or at CONUS Replacement Centers at Fort Benning, GA, or Fort Bliss, TX.
- Participates in military-to-military events with Coalition and European forces and with Force Protection/Anti-Terrorism exercises at Army garrisons in Europe.
- Assists in the transformation of the 30th Medical Brigade into a Medical Support Deployment Command, or MEDCOM (DS), with a main command post in Germany and an Operations Command Post with a deployable capability anywhere.
- Establishes a structure of primary care clinics with a robust referral system at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or nearby Host Nation Clinics and Hospitals.
- Works with TRICARE Area Office, Europe to develop Host Nation Preferred Provider Networks that increase access to both primary and secondary care services in local Host Nation communities for all beneficiaries.
- Eliminates barriers to access for appointments in military and Host Nation facilities for Soldiers and their Families through Tricare OnLine and Benefits Counsel Advisors and Coordinators.
- Implements a Host Nation Patient Liaison Program to facilitate admissions to Host Nation hospitals for U.S. beneficiaries as well as language barriers.
- Synchronizes healthcare delivery with relocation and closure of units in accordance with USAREUR Transformation.
- Leverages technology to increase education, maximize on-line appointments and video teleconferencing calls with specialists, and improve medical care documentation through electronic health records; thereby improving continuity of care, maximizing the limited U.S. specialists at Landstuhl and increase satisfaction for staff and patients alike
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
In 2007, the Europe Regional Medical Command established three Warrior Transition Units with 12 platoons/sections to assist wounded Warriors during their recovery period return to active duty or to transition to civilian life as a proud Soldier. The Warrior in Transition’s job is to heal. A Warrior Transition Unit battalion headquarters and one additional company will stand up in 2008 to provide command and control for each of the Warrior Transition Units. These Wounded Warriors are afforded timely access to primary and specialty care, including surgery, aggressive case management to facilitate recovery and to expedite healing so that they may return to duty.
ERMC supports the Army Family Covenant to Soldiers and Families and is on-point to deliver outstanding, timely and quality care. The ERMC team always strives to deliver the highest quality care in all of the clinics and hospitals. The procedures in performing this quality care are discussed, rehearsed and practiced in order to become as routine as a battle drill. The patient’s safety is truly the most important step and a positive outcome is expected. Each team member learns and knows his/her tasks and standards and subsequently safely applies his/her precious skills along with the values of respect, courtesy and compassion. Each healthcare provider also understands that every patient is different, presenting a different set of medical issues and expectations. The healthcare providers as well as all ERMC staff want to make a connection with all beneficiaries and will look each patient in the eye and get the patient to smile. The healthcare provider (physician, phlebotomist, nurse) will further ask each patient at the conclusion of the visit, “Is there anything else I can do for you? I have the time." The ERMC staff is committed to the health of every patient and understands that the patient is why ERMC exists.
Why is this important to the Army?
Though managing the health and care of Soldiers and Family members is an honor, it also becomes a challenge as USAREUR continues to change its footprint. ERMC remains committed to keeping pace with USAREUR transformation in Europe by optimizing services as well as developing Host Nation services that will afford all beneficiaries options for obtaining and assuring healthcare access and establishing continuity of care for all beneficiaries.
The Europe Regional Medical Command endeavors to make the healthcare encounter an experience of compassion, respect, quality care and service, education, and complete understanding of the patient’s health, health promotion and disease management. The 21st Century presents unique challenges that will enable the ERMC staff to exploit technology to develop a Virtual Clinic that focuses on the continuity of care and the satisfaction of all beneficiaries. Transformation of medical units further enables the same level of care to deploy where Soldiers deploy.