By Emily Yeh, Regional Health Command-PacificApril 19, 2019
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Providers at Madigan Army Medical Center and Naval Hospital Bremerton are setting the bar high when it comes to true patient-centered care in a joint environment. As part of the Puget Sound Military Health System, providers in the pediatric medical services have established a program that increases access to care for beneficiaries.
Each month specialists from Madigan travel to Bremerton to run their specialty clinics. Their efforts make it easier for families stationed at Bremerton, Bangor and Oak Harbor, to receive specialty care that would otherwise require travelling to receive. This is especially important for those who require constant and consistent care, whether for themselves or a family member.
Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jason Caboot, pediatric pulmonologist, Madigan, is one of the providers constantly forging the path to bring services to beneficiaries.
"When I came to Madigan, I knew there were doctors from the gastroenterology program traveling to Bremerton to offer their services," said Caboot. "I realized a need for this type of service in the pediatric specialty care program which would enhance access to care for our patients."
The Puget Sound region is unique in its geographic area. A clinic that is a few miles as the crow flies, can take up to two hours to get to because of driving and transportation options. Having the Madigan doctors go up to Bremerton saves the beneficiary time, while keeping a consistent relationship with their provider.
Caboot goes up to Bremerton once a month, sometimes twice. He is able to provide a full range of medical services to his pediatric patients because the clinic and staff share all assets with him. It is a true partnership.
Elizabeth Schaff, the mother of Jacob, an established and frequently seen patient of Caboot, said it has been great to have the option to see her son's provider at Bremerton.
"We require medical care for my son Jacob every few months. We were going to three different hospitals, so it has been nice to have one point of service, with one provider that we know," said Schaff.
As a retiree family, the Schaff's have settled down and chosen Bremerton as their primary facility. With Jacob's medical needs, they often find themselves traveling throughout the Puget Sound area to seek the specialty care Jacob requires. The novelty of having the doctor come to you and not having to travel to see the doctors is refreshing.
The continuity of care is also important to Schaff. "Jacob is comfortable with Dr. Caboot, and we don't have to re-establish a medical history or relationship when he goes to the doctor every few months," Schaff said.
At Naval Hospital Bremerton, Lt. Cmdr. Ritka Weiss, chief of the pediatric specialty care clinic, knows that from a customer service perspective, having the embedded specialists at Bremerton is a dream come true. Not only do pediatric patients remain in the military health system through these partnerships, beneficiaries who would have needed to seek treatment outside of the military medical treatment facilities in the region can have everything taken care of within their military medical treatment facility of choice.
According to Ritka, what is common within the military health system is that patients don't want to go anywhere else. They want to be part of the military health system, with providers, and facilities that they know. It is comforting to know that all their needs can be taken care of under one roof, in one place.
For some, the military health providers are like family. It's that same sense for providers. The face-to-face with someone familiar means a lot, it is also important for the continuity of care. The care is seamless when you can keep it in the same facility, continued Ritka.
As Ritka says, "I love it, for our families, for our staff."
Both the providers and patients see the benefits of the collaboration to bring better access to care across the military services. Using the pediatric specialty care program as a model, respiratory care is now being expanded at Bremerton, with providers from Madigan.
"We are trying to increase and build the asthma education program," said Jill Levin, respiratory therapist, Madigan.
Levin started going to Bremerton with Caboot in December 2018. This has allowed them to maximize time, freeing up appointment slots, allowing for more access to care for other patients.
Across the Puget Sound's Military Health System these joint efforts have built a stronger patient-provider bond.
About the Puget Sound MHS
The Puget Sound Military Health System is an integrated health care market that includes Army, Navy and Air Force hospitals and clinics in Western Washington. They provide care to more than 281,000 local TRICARE beneficiaries.
About the Defense Health Agency
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force and ready medical force to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime. The DHA supports the delivery of integrated, affordable, and high quality health services to Military Health System (MHS) beneficiaries and is responsible for driving greater integration of clinical and business processes across the MHS.