By John Wayne ListonAugust 17, 2017
Hundreds of people gathered in the town of Seaside, Calif., on Aug. 3 to witness the culmination of years of planning as the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration launched a historic partnership as it opened the first ever joint VA-DoD clinic.
The Major General William H. Gourley Clinic VA-DoD Outpatient Clinic opened its doors to military veterans of the Monterey peninsula military community, along with the family medicine and pediatrics TRICARE Prime patients of the Department of Defense.
The idea for this collaboration was largely credited to its namesake, Maj. Gen. William H. Gourley, a 36-year Army veteran. After retirement in 1989 Gourley chose to settle in Monterey, Calif., near his old posting of Fort Ord. His passion for serving Soldiers led him to take a strong role in the restructuring of the fort after it was closed in 1994 and begin an intense campaign to convince the VA to open a clinic there.
He was a strong believer in the possible collaboration between the VA and the DOD and enlisted the help of Congressman Sam Farr on the House Appropriations committee. Together they pushed the effort into reality. Overcoming numerous logistic obstacles between the two medical systems, they convinced both sides of the wisdom in coming together.
The clinic design is collaboration between the VA's health care system and the Army's Patient Centered Medical Home model, which will put patients first and allow providers to influence them to make great decisions on their health and wellness.
"This center is going to be able to not only give a different kind of care to the patient but it's going to be training the medical community of the future in how to do this delivery system and how to do it with the architecture in this building. So it's really kind of a pilot model for how American medicine will be delivered in the future," said Farr.
Gourley passed away in 2008 and did not get to see the ground broken for the clinic. Numerous members of his family were in attendance at the opening ceremony to represent him. "Throughout his career, my grandfather was committed to taking care of Soldiers and their families. It was what motivated him and gave him tremendous pride and satisfaction. This facility epitomizes his commitment towards that goal," said Gourley's grandson Sean Gourley.
The California Medical Detachment from the Presidio of Monterey, a subordinate unit of Madigan Army Medical Center, will begin pediatrics and family medicine care in the facility alongside their VA teammates. These Army clinics are targeting an enrolled population of 4200 and will see their first patient on Aug. 14.
The pediatric clinic will provide care to the Presidio of Monterey pediatric population with primary needs ranging from acute visits to well visits such as sport physicals, immunizations and overseas screenings.
The family medicine clinic will provide care for all adult dependents from the main clinic on Presidio of Monterey. Each patient will partner with a team of healthcare providers to receive improved access, coordinated services, and better continuity of care.
The joint facility will also feature an on-site pharmacy, laboratory, x-ray capabilities and will leverage cutting edge technology to provide tele-health from specialists at Madigan.
The technology and merging of care models from two medical systems is leading the way forward for DoD healthcare and VA medicine.
"With Secretary (of Veterans Affairs) Shulkin's recent announcement of his selection of the DoD's MHS GENESIS as the electronic health record of the future for the VA, I am confident that we will soon be able to realize our longstanding desire for clinical continuity of care between our two health care systems.
When that time comes, the vision that created this facility will undoubtedly become the prototype for interagency execution of health care delivery," said Col. Michael Place, Madigan commander.