FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hard work and customer focus paid great dividends for Lyster Army Health Clinic in January when the Office of the Army Surgeon General awarded the Fort Rucker staff two checks totaling $100,000 as part of Army Medical Command's Winter Performance Awards.

LAHC received the awards for increasing its patient workload by 13 percent and earning most improved honors in the Evidence Based Medicine category, according to a MEDCOM press release.

The clinic competed in four categories within its peer group, Military Treatment Facilities Without Inpatient Capabilities, at the Military Health Systems Conference in National Harbor, Md., said Col. Yolanda Ruiz-Isales, LAHC commander. This marks the first time LAHC has received these honors.

"These awards recognize the hard work the staff has put forth to improve medical care to our beneficiaries," Ruiz-Isales said. "The award monies will be used to improve services at Lyster for both patients and staff. At this time, there are not definitive plans, but as plans progress and monies are put forth, there will be improvements made that will benefit our patients."

LAHC's achievement in Evidence Based Medicine was the best in its peer group, which consists of clinics of similar sizes and missions, Ruiz-Isales said.

Evidence based medicine focuses on proven outcomes or studies, said Lt. Col. Dana K. Renta, LAHC deputy commander for clinical services.

"Lyster is using best clinical practices to ensure our patients receive the best care possible," Renta said. "Prevention is key to ensuring patients stay the healthiest for the longest time. By focusing on prevention, we are able to find preventable diseases before they begin."

LAHC's best-in-MEDCOM practice on colon cancer screening is one example of evidence based medicine, she added. Although a leading cause of death in the U.S., the illness is preventable.

"Patients are screened at 50 years of age, checking for possible early signs of colon cancer, like blood in the stool," Renta said. "To help remind people of this, we send 'birthday reminders' and schedule consults to make this process easier for patients."

This is just one preventive measure LAHC emphasizes, she noted. Others include screening for diabetes, reducing diabetic's blood sugar levels, maintaining low-density lipoprotein (bad type of cholesterol) to below 100 for diabetics and pap smear and mammogram screens for women older than 40 years.

"These are just a few of our measures we track," Renta said. "Again, prevention is key to ensuring the patient has a long and healthy life, reducing health care costs and improving the readiness of our Soldiers, Families and retirees."

The clinic finished third in its peer group for increasing its patient workload, Ruiz-Isales said.

"We recognized we had under enrolled our population," the commander said. "We took a proactive approach to bring patients back to our facility. We also began streamlining processes that made us more efficient. Lastly, we took a very hard look at ourselves, and committed to taking care of our Soldiers and their Families."

Not one to rest on its laurels, the LAHC staff intends to build on its recent successes.

"We will soon open our Computerized Axial Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging units that are in the finishing stages of construction and credentialing," Ruiz-Isales said. "These services will provide immediate CT and MRI opportunities for our patients and eliminate the need to seek testing from the civilian community. In many cases, patients may be given the opportunity to receive testing at the time of their appointments, resulting in time savings for the patients and immediate continuity of care for their medical needs.

"Lyster is continuously striving to improve our services to our patients," she added. "We are investigating the possibilities for extended medical services (and) are focusing on our patient satisfaction and access to the medical care we provide. It is our goal to provide our patients with appointments in a timely manner, and to do this with courtesy and respect. If we fail to do so, we expect our patients to let us know."

Ruiz-Isales said LAHC staff needs patients to fill out and send back comment sheets they receive in the mail from the Surgeon General.

"That's the only way we will know how to better serve you," she said. "We are committed to making your health care experience the best possible, and we need your help and feedback if we fail to do this for you."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16