WRMC CG provides Army medical insight Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 March 2014
Story and photo by John Brooks
Special to GUIDON

Brig. Gen. John Cho, commanding general at Western Regional Medical Command, spent Thursday and Friday visiting several General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital clinics, facilities and patients.

Cho spoke about meeting the needs of patients, enrollment, efficiency and the future of the hospital and Army medicine, during several facility tours and town tall meetings scheduled with staff and patients.
Brig. Gen. John Cho, commanding general of Western Regional Medical Command, talks with Soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Leonard Wood during a town hall meeting held Friday at the WTU’s Soldier Family Assistance Center.

“The decision makers are reasonable,” Cho said. “But it’s important that I tell you where we are — and why.”

As the Army downsizes from an active-duty troop strength of 570,000 to 450,000, Cho’s insight provided hospital staff members with a high-level perspective on the hospital’s longevity.

“Within the ebb and flow of things, we’re (currently) in the ebb,” Cho said. “That means that we have to take care of those who have retired in our system who want to get care. Because when the flow comes, and we have to grow for whatever reason — for whatever badness that’s out there — and we have to then increase troop strength, this hospital will be on all pistons.

“The future is in our hands,” Cho said. “And that’s where I want to be.”

Regardless of the issue, success “involves the team responding to the need,” Cho said.

Cho discussed enrolling to capacity, taking care of those who have enrolled, getting patients to make the wellness check appointments that they need, maximizing secure messaging and exercising efficient access to care, as well as topics associated with the hospital and Army medicine’s future.

Using new communication protocols and tools
provided by the Army’s patient-centered, team-based system for health can help make that happen while pushing efficiency in the right direction.

A few of these new communication tools include TRICARE On Line and a new nurse advice line pilot program.

The closing of stateside TRICARE Service Centers and move from walk-in to electronic services on April 1, was of particular interest to Cho, who reserved time during his visit to focus on ensuring the hospital and United Healthcare representatives were working through the change together.

Several proactive strategies were discussed and are in place to meet patients’ needs. The TSC here is slated to hire four employees to ensure the hospital has a safety net to take care of the community.

The highlight of Cho’s visit was his attendance at the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the hospital’s new cutting-edge electronic Intensive Care Unit here, hosted by Col. Marie Dominguez, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander.

The eICU is expected to increase the hospital’s inpatient care efficiency, currently rated No. 3 in MEDCOM, Ingersoll said.

“The eICU more than doubles our staff’s ability to provide critical care for our inpatients,” said John Ingersoll, Clinical Operations Supervisor. “And this level of quality care has also increased our efficiency. Now we’ve got a state-of-the-art, high-tech tool to take caring to a whole new level with telemedicine.”

The eICU brings additional board-certified intensivists and critical care nursing staff members on board, electronically, significantly contributing to value-added care for enrollees here in rural Missouri, Ingersoll said.

Second and third opinion care and continuous electronic monitoring, provided by a partnership with an eICU control center at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, Ark., allows for fewer patient transfers to distant, larger hospitals.

Visiting Family members of ICU patients here can also enjoy staying at home rather than at a hotel two hours away.

Army Medicine is also actively exploring the possibilities of connecting Army Medical Treatment Facilities together using telemedicine technology, Cho said, which further expands our ability to care for patients.

(Editor’s note: Brooks is the Marketing and Public Affairs Officer at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 March 2014 )