The Fort Polk Dental Healthcare Activity has earned the Defense Health Agency 2018 Advancement toward High Reliability in Healthcare Award. They are among four recipients in the Improved Access Award category, earning their award for Readiness Access.

LTC Paul Colthirst, commander of the Fort Polk DENTAC, and his team submitted an initiative called Fort Polk Dental Readiness and Access that described the implementation of a dynamic Assess, Develop, Assure concept model, known as ADA. The ADA model determines the point at which Soldiers will have optimum access to care by comparing historical Soldier Readiness Processing data to Unit Coordinated Scheduling in order to increase the Soldiers' access to premier dental care, and ensure unit readiness.

In order for the ADA initiative to remain an achievable goal, the DENTAC treatment coordinator pre-scheduled Soldiers for their dental care with their commands. The lynchpin to this successful program was the coordination of the training cycles of the U.S. Army Forces Command units on Fort Polk with the appointment availability, patient capacity and provider availability of the dental clinics on post. According to Colthirst, the cooperation and collaboration of the FORSCOM tenant units' leadership teams and readiness NCOs were instrumental to the success of this program.

"The goal of the ADA model, at least for dental care, is not to do away with mass Soldier Readiness Processing, but rather to enhance the opportunity of unit coordinated scheduling, similar to SRP, but to add specialty and/or comprehensive care to the process," Colthirst explained. "This means greater access to patients--and providers can do more procedures at one appointment which means Soldiers have more time to be with their respective units for training."

According to Colthirst, the Fort Polk DENTAC team of more than 60 people all contributed to the effort, but it was the diversity of thought, skills, individual effort and leadership engagement that polished a good idea and made it such a resounding success.

"This team of DoD Civilian employees, Soldiers and contract employees worked tirelessly toward the stated goal of dental readiness for the Soldiers in their care," said Colthirst.

"I am extremely proud of the Fort Polk dental leadership and team." COL Michael Roberts, Regional Dental Command -- Central commander, said. "They took Gen. Milley's priority of Readiness and found an innovative and successful contribution to the overall Readiness of the troops on Fort Polk. I commend the leadership for allowing their team creativity and innovation in achieving a stated goal. I can't think of any team more deserving of being recognized at the highest level of DoD Healthcare."