JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (December 23, 2020) – The Musculoskeletal Integrated Practice Unit held a socially distanced grand opening ceremony at the Jennifer M. Moreno Primary Care Clinic, Dec. 16.
“This mission (MSK IPU) is to provide comprehensive integrated care to patients with acute musculoskeletal complaints,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew R. Schmitz, chair of the department of orthapaedics, Brooke Army Medical Center. “Instead of seeing your primary care provider and getting multiple referrals, this clinic houses primary care; adolescent medicine; physical medicine and rehab (PM&R) physicians; orthopaedic surgeons from a variety of subspecialties (sports surgeons, hand surgeons, spine surgeons, foot and ankle surgeons, adolescent sports surgeons, young adult hip preservation surgeons), along with physical therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral health, and nutrition.”
In 2018, Schmitz and the members of the MSK IPU team proposed the unit to San Antonio Military Health Services leadership. By early 2020, the clinic was nearly ready for its grand opening. However, the COVID-19 outbreak forced a delay of the opening until almost the end of the year.
“It’s hard to believe that we started the planning meetings for this place two years ago,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Osborn, deputy commander for surgical services, BAMC. “We’re very excited that we’re able to provide these services. We have the ability to intervene earlier and get our patients back to full functioning.”
Schmitz said the unit at the Moreno Clinic is a one-stop shop for patients who come in with a variety of musculoskeletal issues. The clinic supports active duty service members and beneficiaries. Staff at the new unit will also screen appointments throughout the San Antonio Military Health System daily. If there are any appointments within 72 hours of the day’s screening that could possibly be handled by the staff at the MSK IPU, they will contact the patient to see if they would like to be seen within the unit.
“The major benefit to this approach is the time involved,” said Schmitz. “The earlier you can get to specialty care, the earlier patients can return to full readiness.”
The flow of work and integrated approach allows patients the opportunity to be seen in a unit that is designed to handle their specific issues without having to go from primary care provider to specialty care providers at various locations; then back to their primary provider. This could mean weeks between appointments and possibly months from initial injury to full recovery. Now, patients can see their provider and an array of specialty care providers in one area. Schmitz said the services within the unit include physical therapy, orthopedic services, pain management, and behavioral health.