FORT DRUM, New York - At most Army installations, Soldiers and their families receive almost all of their health care at military treatment facilities located on the installation. However, Fort Drum follows a slightly different model when it comes to health care.
While the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity on Fort Drum provides service members a multitude of health services, some services, such as obstetrics and some behavioral health services, are offered off the installation at partner facilities. For example, obstetrics, gynecology and labor and delivery is administered at the Samaritan Medical Center in downtown Watertown, New York alongside civilian health care partners. Obstetrics and gynecology physicians and nurses from Fort Drum work in federally leased offices at Samaritan where service members and their families are seen.
Working with the civilian staff "is unique because it forces me to expand outside my own realm of just being an OB doctor," said Maj. Kirk McBride, an OB physician and director of Fort Drum OBGYN. "I feel a more integral connection with the city because Fort Drum is really built into the community."
To help ensure both civilian and military health care providers operate in unison, the health care partners participate in intense monthly training simulations to keep them up to date on new medical procedures as well as help build a more cohesive team.
"This training is vital because we take care of all the TRICARE dependents and active duty service members for Fort Drum at Samaritan," McBride said. "We are currently in a unique situation in which all of the care, whether gynecological or obstetrical, is done at Samaritan hospital. This has presented a unique opportunity to demonstrate the collaborative efforts between the military docs and civilian docs."
On June 7, during their most recent training, the labor and delivery nurses took charge in an emergency scenario where they had to deliver a baby and take care of the mother without the help of physicians. Using medical simulation manikins, nurses were able to deliver the baby, resuscitate the baby after it became unresponsive and rapidly move the mother into the operating room to stop life-threatening complications due to the delivery.
"This was all done in an effort to maximize learning in a non-threatening environment," McBride said. "This definitely highlights our commitment to education and learning as this is being done for all (Samaritan) nurses. Trying to bring the latest information and doing it in a way that's a good teaching point so we can improve overall care is what it all comes down to."
For the civilian staff at Samaritan, working with the military health care professionals has been a unique yet positive experience.
"They bring a lot of new education, new procedures and new ways of doing things to some of the older ways," said Carol Langtry, a registered nurse at Samaritan. Their procedures and techniques have "been pretty easy to incorporate."
"The military and civilian docs work very well together," she added. "If there's an emergency (and civilian physicians isn't available), a lot of times the Fort Drum OBs will step in and take over an emergency for a civilian patient. Civilian and military docs will work together in the OR or they'll step in if there's a lot of deliveries and cover for each other."
McBride says he will continue to take lessons learned and new findings from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and continually apply them to the training scenarios to ensure all health care professionals, military and civilian alike, have the most up-to-date medical information that could save lives in the future.
"It all comes back to us being here for one reason - we're here to take care of patients and deliver babies," McBride said.