Continuity key in new health care program
Senior Airman Jakasha Walker of the 42nd Medical Group practices her screening techniques at the clinic. Upcoming initiatives at the medical group will hone in on continuity of care. (Air Force photo/Wendy Simonds)
Continuity key in new health care program

3/11/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The 42nd Medical Group starts a series of initiatives April 1 that are designed to improve the continuous care patients receive.

These changes include the launch of the Patient Centered Medical Home, changing the name of the family practice clinic to the family health clinic, the start of the trainee health clinic, updated sick call procedures and the start of a disease management team.

Beyond the moniker adjustment, the family health clinic is adjusting its approach with the launch of the Patient Centered Medical Home.

"The key to this initiative is continuity," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Lynda K. Vu, 42nd Medical Operations Squadron commander. "We are striving to improve the care that we deliver through onsistent appointments with the same provider."

Every effort will be made to ensure patients are consistently cared for by the same family health team. The clinic will have five distinctively named teams: Eagle, Galaxy, Spirit, Predator and Raptor, each of which consist of two providers, a nurse and five technicians.

"Our goal is to create an enjoyable and productive environment that promotes and delivers world-class health care to our community. ... PCMH is an active approach to establish a 'medical home' for everyone," stated Colonel Vu.

She emphasized that patients should be the driving force of their own health care "rather than the passive recipient."

"Care that is truly patient-centered considers patients' cultural traditions, personal preferences and values, family situations and lifestyles," Colonel Vu noted.

To lighten the patient load at the family health clinic, the trainee health clinic will provide acute health care to the transient student population, which includes students of Officer Training School, Air and Space Basic Course, Squadron Officer School, Noncommissioned Officer Academy and Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy. The clinic will offer walk-in sick call 7 - 9 a.m. during normal duty days. Sick call is only to be used for acute issues that prohibit or hinder the member's ability to participate in class.

The family health clinic will not conduct a traditional walk-in sick call for active-duty members. Patients should book an appointment to be seen by one of their health care team's providers by using the web-based appointing module in Tricare online at or by calling the appointment line at 953-3368 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The changes to the family health clinic will also manifest physically in a reconfiguration of the medical group offices on the clinic's first floor. The clinic's five teams will be located along the right side of the hall when viewed from the front entrance. Pediatrics, women's health, internal medicine and trainee health clinic will be located on the left side of the hall.

In addition to the changes in the family health clinic, the medical group is kicking off a disease management program designed to improve the health and quality of care for patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure by enhancing the monitoring and management of their illnesses. The disease management team will consist of three registered nurses who work closely with the patient's provider to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the treatment plan, according to registered nurse Capt. Judy Tippins of the Medical Operations Squadron, Family Practice Flight.

The team will also consult with patients, providing educational and other support to help them better understand their condition, inform them of changes in the condition that may warrant medical care, encourage positive behavioral modifications, support the relationship between patients and providers, address other medical conditions that may affect their health and help them use health care properly.

For more information on the changes, contact Maj. (Dr.) Phillip Douglas, group practice manager, at For more information about the disease management team, contact Lt. Col. (Dr.) Brad Olsson, health care integrator, at

Courtesy of 42nd Medical Group, staff reports