By Mr. Rick Emert (IMCOM)January 21, 2011
Members of the Fort Carson community gathered at The Foxhole Jan. 12 for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new behavioral health clinic slated to open in spring 2012 as part of the resiliency campus.
In remarks at the event, which was held inside The Foxhole due to inclement weather, Col. Jimmie Keenan, Evans Army Community Hospital commander, said the location adjacent to Forrest Fitness Center would put vital behavioral health care right in the heart of the Fort Carson community.
"We are breaking ground today as part of a much larger project. This is part of our resiliency campus," Keenan said. "It is an installation effort and a garrison effort to really focus on the minds, bodies and spirits of our Soldiers and our Family members. It is our commitment ... to America's sons and daughters to provide comprehensive behavioral health care as well as patient-centered health care as close as possible to them in the community."
Behavioral health services are an important aspect of keeping Soldiers able to deploy and fight in the nation's wars, according to Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson.
"This is a tremendous day for Fort Carson. One of the things I've been amazed at ... is just how critical behavioral health is to the mission of Fort Carson, the 4th Inf. Div. and the separate units that are assigned here," he said.
"As I go around and talk with leaders ... one recurring theme that keeps coming up is how important it is to keep our Soldiers in the fight through the behavioral health aspect, particularly for an Army that is in persistent conflict. Fort Carson really has a large number of Soldiers who have been in the fight repeatedly for, now, almost a decade."
Maj. Christopher Ivany, chief, Department of Behavioral Health, EACH, used a story of his time deployed to Baghdad with 4th Inf. Div., to explain the reluctance by many Soldiers to seek behavioral health care. A fellow officer on the deployment had been struggling with depression and anxiety, and he recommended the officer seek therapy. The officer was willing to speak with Ivany, a psychiatrist, but said he would not go to behavioral health.
"I told him that I was behavioral health," Ivany said. "To him, there was a big difference ... because I was a person. He knew me; I worked with him. I was not a distant entity to him across the (forward operating base). That gap for him and our Soldiers is filled with preconceived notions that we all hold as Americans, that we call stigma. Me ... being forward where he lived and where he worked allowed him to access me as a person. We were able to do therapy, and he did very well.
"This clinic today is part of that same commitment ... that behavioral health care is best delivered to our Soldiers where they live and work."
The clinic is part of a construction project that also includes a new hospital administration building; the entire project is programmed to cost $32 million, according to a fact sheet provided by EACH.
The 26,298 square-foot facility will house 85 behavioral health providers and services will include psychological testing, neuro-psych testing and follow-up care; the facility will include an observation room, two large group therapy rooms, 60 provider and other clinical staff offices and administrative staff support space, according to the fact sheet.
The exterior will include a healing garden, covered walkway approach from a drop-off point and 166 parking spaces.
The state-of-the-art facility will improve services, and, more importantly, show the community's focus on caring for Soldiers and Families, Ivany said.
"(This facility) will reduce the distance Soldiers require to access care," he said. "It will improve the number and scope of services that we can provide. But, the most important thing that this clinic will provide is that it will show the collective commitment by everybody on this installation that Soldier and Family care is extremely important, and it is best delivered when we do that together as a team."