Spc. Lauralynn Long, a Kimbrough pharmacy tech, uses the new Script Pro Robotic technology to fill a patient prescription. With up to 1,500 patients visiting Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center per day, the facility is expanding services to accommodate the increasing number of patients.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- In 1996, Kimbrough Army Hospital closed its inpatient services and emergency room following the 1995 Base Closure and Realignment Commission legislature mandate.

Today, Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center is on the upswing, expanding its walls and services to provide for the thousands of new patients who moved to the area due to the 2005 BRAC.

From a renovated patient service center and medical laboratory to new operating rooms and medical teams, Kimbrough is growing to accommodate the nearly 1,500 patients who use the medical facility daily.

With the addition of several federal agencies that have relocated to Fort Meade, the number of patients who travel to Kimbrough for medical care has increased in recent years, changing the requirements of the facility.

"We increased the number of providers we have here, we've increased our enrollment," said Col. Leon Moores, commander of the Fort Meade U.S. Army Medical Department. "We're seeing more patients, we're delivering more prescriptions and we're doing more elective surgery because the installation is growing."

With no current plans for a new facility, Lt. Col. Christopher Soltis, deputy commander for Clinical Services at MEDDAC, said officials have to "be creative with the space you have."

Recent upgrades to the 50-year-old facility include an $8 million renovation to the medical laboratory and patient service center. The project, Moores said, included supplying more office space and a redesign.

All stairways and elevators also have been upgraded to meet safety requirements.

The projects were completed at a cost of approximately $4.5 million.

"With a 50-year-old building, it's important to keep up-to-date for both quality and safety purposes," Moores said. "We want to make sure we're able to provide safe care and high-quality care. To do that, we need to make sure our facilities are meeting current standards."

To meet the needs of all patients, Kimbrough also has increased primary care teams, brought in an internal medicine team and built a new clinic for the pediatric team.

More patients also require more prescription medicine. Two years ago, the Kimbrough pharmacy was averaging 600 to 700 prescriptions per day. Today, the number is close to 2,000. To handle the heavy volume of prescriptions, the pharmacy was recently upgraded with a new computerized system to dispense the medicine more efficiently.

The ScriptPro equipment, which cost around $500,000, was installed in late December.

"This hugely increases the quantity of medicines we can dispense in a day, but also increases the accuracy and safety, which is even more important than volume," Moores said.

A satellite Kimbrough pharmacy at the Fort Meade Commissary has been approved to help cut down on the wait time at the Kimbrough pharmacy. Patients can also use mail-order services to obtain their medicine, Moores said.

With the first wave of renovations complete, another round of upgrades will begin shortly with the opening of four new operating rooms, semipermanent buildings and a Veterans Affairs clinic.

The Fort Meade Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be operated by the Veterans Administration, but Kimbrough will work closely with the new facility. Scheduled to open in June, the 13,200-square-foot facility located behind Kimbrough will provide primary care for veterans, as well as provide evaluations for service members transitioning out of the military, said Sandra Marshall, director of Managed Care at VA Maryland Health Care.

Semipermanent buildings also will be constructed on the soccer fields across Llewellyn Avenue. The four new buildings will house primary care and administrative offices.

Parking will be added for these new buildings, however Kimbrough is still working with the Directorate of Public Works to determine the total surface parking needs for the rest of the facility.

In addition, a surgery suite has been built at Kimbrough to supplement the four existing operating rooms.

The new suite, which is scheduled to open in the spring, offers four state-of-the-art operating rooms, waiting areas and a patient counseling section.

"We're very excited to have that opening to better take care of our surgical patients," Moores said.

In the spring, a master facility plan will be conducted by health facility planners, business planners and health care planners to project patient volume over the next five to 10 years and determine what changes are needed to meet patient demand.

"All of the options are on the table, from upgrading this facility to enlarging this facility to perhaps even a new facility to meet the health care requirements for this institution," Moores said.

As the facility grows and expands its services to accommodate the high volume of patients, Kimbrough officials say safety and quality of health care are the primary concerns.

"We want to provide the right facility to make it a health care experience," Soltis said.

Page last updated Thu February 23rd, 2012 at 15:03