CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- Providing excellent care to patients is a top priority for the Optometry Clinic staff at the SHAPE Healthcare Facility. When the staff found out that Landstuhl Regional Medical Center was going to award them for their performance, they were quite surprised by the news.

"We are surprised to receive the award, because this is what we do consistently every day," said Army Maj. Louie Le, optometrist at the SHAPE Healthcare Facility.

On behalf of LRMC, Army Col. Yolonda "YR" Summons, the SHAPE Healthcare Facility commander, presented a $10,000 check to Le and his staff Aug. 17 at the clinic on SHAPE, Belgium. LRMC awarded the clinic the funds after the staff ranked highest among LRMC and Department of the Army health clinics for meeting performance standards. In addition to providing excellent care to patients, the staff has closed patient encounters at a 100% rate.

According to Army Lt. Col. Amy Jackson, deputy commander for administration for the SHAPE and Brussels Health Clinics, encounters are electronic health records. Medical providers are supposed to close encounters within 72 hours of seeing the patient. Not closing an encounter can result in the patient not receiving proper care.

"If the encounter wasn't closed, no one else on the care team can see it so they won't know that patient's last medical concern was, what medication might have been prescribed or what further care was recommended," said Jackson "It's a method of making sure all encounters are properly captured and available to all doctors that the patient sees afterwards."

For Le and his staff, including Army Spc. Derek Patterson and Anita Gallegos, doing their work was more than just meeting U.S. Army Medical Command's performance standards.

"Our primary goal here is to take care of patients and each other. A part of that is that every team member needs to be on the same page and have the same mentality to take care of people," he said. "The motivation is there. The desire to do it right is there. We will do everything we can to make sure the patient's safety and care is properly done."

The SHAPE Healthcare Facility staff has planned to put the funds back towards improving the optometry clinic such as getting new equipment and buying new furniture for the patient waiting room area.

"We are trying to give back to the community to make the patient experience better," said Summons.

At the end of the day, Le and his staff are committed to providing the best care to patients so they can have vision readiness and not let eyesight problems get in the way of doing activities.

When asked why his staff received the award, he credited their teamwork abilities.

"It's about relationships. We have interpersonal relationships so we can depend on each other. Because of that, we rely on each other and take care of patients together," he said.

FEEDBACK WANTED

The SHAPE Healthcare Facility staff is always seeking feedback from patients in order to improve their services or recognize medical providers for giving outstanding care.

The Joint Outpatient Experience Survey, or JOES, is a Department of Defense satisfaction tool that is distributed randomly to patients who were seen at U.S. military medical and dental facilities. Patients can receive the survey in the mail or by email if they are registered in TRICARE. The survey is an opportunity for patients to give honest feedback. Feedback tells the team what they are doing well and where there might be areas for improvement. When health clinics receive top ratings, they are awarded additional funds to invest back into the clinic and improve patient care.

Patients can also submit comments through the Interactive Customer Evaluation, or ICE, system. ICE for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux services is located online (see link below). Patients will need to select the "Health" button on the left of the website and then select the clinic.