By Mr. Kevin B Jackson (IMCOM)July 21, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Family members who will come to the U.S. Army Health Clinic in the months ahead may not realize it, but they are beneficiaries of a significant upgrade to the former troop medical clinic that until only recently was staff solely to provide care to Soldiers.
The addition of an estimated 1,500 family members who are expected to arrive by the end of summer as part of U.S. Forces Korea's tour normalization plan has led to a four-phase, $4.5 million clinic upgrade and an expanded access to services needed by families. The new family member patient mission has resulted in the former troop medical clinic being re-designated as a USAHC.
Phase one - a new pediatrics and obstetrics wing that includes a screening room - will open for business the first week of August. The new "family care wing" was created in the space previously occupied by behavioral health, which moved across the street into building 802.
The lone family practice physician at the clinic is currently treating about 140 women and that number is expected in increase as more spouses arrive in Warrior Country.
"We actually had a birth in the clinic a couple weeks back - our very first one - and our doctors did a tremendous job," said 2nd Lt. David Preczewski, executive officer at the Casey USAHC. "They didn't have enough time to transport [the patient], so we called our doctors and we had a birth in the clinic. We don't want any more, but we handled it."
To make the facility and particularly the new wing more family-friendly, Casey Garrison's American Red Cross has donated water dispensers, a WII, toys, coloring books and more.
"They keep asking us what we need to help the community as its growing - so they have been very supportive," Preczewski said.
To address pediatric and other medical concerns for the increasing number of patients in Warrior Country, the 65th Medical Battalion has an agreement with St. Mary's Hospital in Uijeongbu to provide care. Preczewski said the brigade is looking to possibly enter into an agreement with a facility in Dongducheon to further meet the increasing need for medical care.
Additional phase one work includes renovation of after-hours care that provides 24-hour care for injuries, which pose a threat to life, limb and eyesight.
Phase two includes the expansion of X-ray and physical therapy areas, and the addition of a waiting room. Phase three will renovate the laboratory, all primary care, patient administration, optometry, audiology and medical supply areas. The final phase will give the lobby, pharmacy and the clinic's exterior a facelift.
All of the work is being done within the confines to the clinic without any expansion.
"Maj. Reilly was very innovative when she sat down with [the architects] and designed a clinic able to support this growing community without expanding the walls," Preczewski said.
Parking at the clinic is also an increasing concern. Work is currently underway to triple the spaces to 51. Preczewski expects the work to be completed by the end of July and he hopes to further increase the parking spaces to about 90 before he departs the peninsula in December.
"Everything that has been done had not been done solely by this clinic," said Maj. Barbara Reilly, the former clinic officer-in-charge who was recently reassigned to Fort Benning, Ga. "It took a lot of people; in particular, we're very appreciative of the garrison at Casey...that has worked so closely with us.
"Ultimately everything being done is to improve the quality of healthcare we give to the community as a whole. I really think we can see how invested 2ID is to make life better - not just for Soldiers, but for family members and Department of Defense civilians - because they realize how important it is."
The clinic will be finished in January 2011 if all the work proceeds according to plan. It is the first major construction in the area since 1974, according to Sgt. 1st Class Vito Dichristina, the clinic's noncommissioned officer in charge.