FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker leadership took to the streets of the Munson Heights neighborhood to meet with residents in their yards and on their porches to gather feedback and help with any issues people may experience with living on post during the latest walking town hall Sept. 21.
It was the first walking town hall for Maj. Gen. Michael C. McCurry, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, who led USAACE, garrison, Corvias and Lyster Army Health Clinic leaders through the neighborhood.
“I think people appreciate us coming out,” the general said, adding that leadership added a twist to the town hall format by using it to help publicize the MHS Genesis transition going on within the Military Health System that started for Lyster patients Sept. 24.
“So I brought (Lt. Col. Garrett Holt, Lyster commander, and Sgt. Maj. Shavonda McLean, Lyster sergeant major) with me this time, so we can take advantage of the opportunity for engagements with our population here to help them understand that transition,” McCurry said.
Most of the feedback the general received while meeting with people outside their homes was positive, but the group was able to take note of some areas needing work and schedule help for people experiencing problems with their housing.
“I think we have a great housing partner in Corvias – most people are very satisfied with their housing experience on Fort Rucker,” McCurry said. “There were relatively few issues brought up – just a couple of things for us to follow up on.”
The issues that were brought to leadership’s attention were nothing leadership hadn’t seen before, according to Col. Robert J. Holcombe, garrison commander.
“The issues were some of those enduring things like landscaping, (issues with siding needing cleaned off) that we just have to keep after as part of doing business in lower Alabama,” the colonel said. “I thought it went very well. We had a good representation of people throughout the neighborhood, and everyone was happy to see the CG come out and walk through the neighborhood. We also had the opportunity to spread the word about MHS Genesis, so a win-win all around.”
Holt appreciated the chance to engage with residents and let them know about the MHS Genesis transition.
“I think this is an exceptional format,” the Lyster commander said. “It shows we are out here in terms of leadership from post, all the way down to the MTF (military treatment facility) – we’re here to help, we want to hear what your issues are and the format reduces a bit of the formality of a larger setting – it’s more personal.
“Even though we marketed (the MHS Genesis transition) on our Facebook and all over post, some folks still are not getting the message,” Holt said. “This is a great moment for me to let people know their health care won’t change, but how they’re interacting with us will through the MHS Genesis portal. We were able to provide folks the link and engage with them on the change.”
The Lyster commander said he feels good about the transition.
“I think the team is training really hard, we just had an update today and we’re all just standing at the starting line waiting for it to go live,” he said. “We know from other facilities that have gone through it that you will find challenges and gaps only after you’ve begun.”
He added that Lyster planned to see 20-30 patients Sept. 24, a Saturday, to ensure they iron out as many kinks in the new system before business really picks up Sept. 26, a Monday.
“Patients can start logging in as early Saturday afternoon – it should be a painless process for them,” Holt said. “I encourage people to go ahead and start sending their messages to make sure that everything feels good on their side while we’re making sure on our side.”
While there might be some hiccups in the beginning, Fort Rucker does benefit from being in the middle of the transition so it can benefit from lessons learned at other installations and also from adjustments made to the system because of the challenges other health providers have faced, he added.
“I’m very optimistic – it’s going to be a challenge for our staff and patients, as well, as we kind of walk through this,” he said. “I’m asking patients to be patient. It is going to be frustrating, I know that, but we’re going to be there for them.”
For more on MHS Genesis, visit the LAHC website at https://lyster.tricare.mil/.