FORT SILL, Okla. (Oct. 17, 2013) -- Col. Noel Cardenas, Fort Sill Medical Department Activity (MEDDAC) commander, announced Oct. 11 the closure of Frontier Medical Home, 5405 SW Lee Blvd. in Lawton. The closure is projected to be completed by the end of 2013.

The clinic, which opened in January 2011, was part of an Army initiative called the Community Based Medical Homes. The purpose of these medical homes was to increase primary care access to beneficiaries in local communities like Lawton.

"The reason for placing one of [the homes] here in the Lawton community was we were projecting a growth in our Soldier population so there was the need to add more clinic space or capacity for them," Cardenas said. "But the key factor is that the growth didn't happen, with the Soldiers moving here."

"With the drawdown in Iraq and us pulling out of Afghanistan ... We just didn't have the growth in the Army that was projected," he said.

Cardenas stated about 6,300 beneficiaries or dependent family members of Soldiers, veterans and retirees will be impacted by this move as their health care services are shifted back to Reynolds Army Community Hospital. Five primary care providers, as well as nurses and other staff at FMH will make the transition. There are no projected staff reductions at this time, he said.

"The difference for our patients is going to be minimal. Of course they will have to come back to Fort Sill for their care. So they will have to come through the gates, use our parking lot and come into the hospital for their appointments. The only impact for them within the hospital is they may have a longer wait at [the RACH] pharmacy," Cardenas said. "Out at FMH, after the patient saw the doctor, their prescription would go into the system and they would walk down the hallway and see a pharmacist. And, they would pick up their medication, usually within minutes. When they come back here the wait time will be a little longer."

Cardenas added some of the pluses for the patients coming back to RACH will be that they will have specialty services available, such as referral management to see a specialist, as well as X-ray and radiology capabilities, which are not available at Frontier Medical Home.

"Patients will still receive the same high-quality health care they are receiving at the current location.

They are going to see the same provider here that they have been seeing out there and the same nurse that has been taking care of them," he said.

Patients will use the same appointment system, the same secure message email system to communicate with their providers, as well as make appointments using TRICARE online. Also, the phone number will be the same 580-558-2000.

During the time the FMH has been operating, RACH has gone through a series of renovations. Those improvements, along with the Soldier-population growth that didn't materialize, allowed the MEDDAC command to make the decision to bring the medical home population back on post. Now the former FMH patients will be treated in a newly renovated clinic area.

"Frontier will no longer exist. They will come [to] a medical home here, and they will have different teams. Out there they were assigned teams that were blue and green. Here we've actually used the Army Values to name our teams. So they will be assigned to either the Honor or Service teams," he said.

"Our patients expect high-quality health care, and they are receiving that now. As those patients transition back here, they will not [notice] their health care has changed in any way."

The only difference is that it is in a different facility," said Cardenas. "They should also realize that we are focused on saving taxpayers' dollars."