WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 30, 2010) -- The first of 17 planned off-base Army medical clinics opened today outside Fort Campbell, Ky., as part of an initiative that is aiming to free up health care access for Active Duty Soldiers on installations.

The concept for community-based medical home clinics began when the Army realized it will need to provide health care access to an increasing number of Soldiers and their families who are being relocated as part of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

"At many of our Army installations, we have limited space, and military construction takes a considerable amount of time. We don't have the four-to-five years that it takes to complete a military construction project to adequately take care of the patients," said Lt. Col. Bradley Lieurance, program manager for the community-based primary care clinic initiative.

The medical home clinic is a good solution to providing care for more beneficiaries without overloading Army hospitals, Lieurance said.

The clinics, which will each be able to accommodate about 8,100 enrolled patients, are primarily for the families of Soldiers, said Lieurance. He explained that many Army families live off base, and in some cases, traveling onto an installation for a medical appointment can be an inconvenience. The in-town clinics will present a more accessible location for some families while providing them with more personalized care.

Lieurance said families in-processing at new participating installations will be given the option to make one of the clinics their medical "home base," rather than the installation's medical treatment facility. However, he said, the clinics are focused on primary care, so families will visit the base for specialists.

The clinics will be standardized, so no matter where families are stationed in the future, their medical treatment process will be familiar.

"Every one of these clinics will look exactly the same. That was important for the surgeon general, because he wanted to provide a common patient experience whether you are at Fort Benning or Fort Bragg," said Lieurance.

Each clinic will have 35 staff members: seven doctors or physicians assistants, one behavioral health practitioner, four registered nurses, 16 licensed practical nurses, three administrative personnel, one pharmacist, one pharmacy technician and two lab technicians.

The clinics are also created using a "patient-centered" approach, with the goal of patients seeing the same primary care-provider on each visit. This approach is described as both "revolutionary and old-fashioned" on U.S. Army Medical Command's (MEDCOM) website.

"It's a team approach to health care where patients see the same providers every time," Lieurance said.

The program will also be cost-effective for the Army, as MEDCOM will be leasing the clinic space and tailoring it to meet the medical home model, rather than building new facilities. Clinics will be housed in spaces ranging from office buildings to strip malls said Lieurance.

"This is going to improve the access and quality of our health care potentially for all of our Active Duty beneficiaries because of the impact it will have to military treatment facilities as well," Lieurance explained.

Maj. Chad Rodarmer, who also works on the project, said the most beneficial part of the program is the convenience of access it will provide to family members.

He said the Army families who were asked what they thought about the program responded very positively.

"The feedback has been really tremendous. The families are really excited,"
Rodarmer said.

Medical Command is so optimistic about the program, they might not stop at 17 clinics said Lieurance, who explained the Army is considering expanding the program to 20 or 23 clinics.

Currently, clinics are planned to be opened at Forts Sill, Bragg, Stewart, Sam Houston, Hood, Shafter, Lewis, Leonard Wood and Benning. Several installations will have more than one community-based clinic, which are all planned to be opened by April of 2011.