Sunday, November 26, 2006

Future of Veterans and Military Care? a prototype

by Master Sgt. Kimberly Spencer
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

11/24/2006 - SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- As the sound of sledge hammers swinging and bulldozers running fades, a new state-of-the-art medical facility on the north side of San Antonio is poised to open its doors.

The new North Central Federal Clinic, the first Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense venture using joint leadership and staffing, is scheduled to open Dec. 4

"The congressionally approved facility was chosen after a federal competition, and is a jewel in the crown for both federal agencies and a test bed receiving national recognition," said Maj. Eric Peipelman, the 59th Medical Wing project manager. "The clinic will provide pharmacy, radiology, laboratory and optometry services for those enrolled."

"We have several other facilities throughout the United States that are working toward the same goal we have achieved here," said Mark Goldstein with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

The clinic is designed to improve access to medial care for VA and DOD beneficiaries living on the north side of San Antonio. Currently those Air Force beneficiaries must drive across town to Wilford Hall Medical Center on the south side of the city on Lackland Air Force Base.

"The Air Force and the VA are both extremely excited to bring our quality care close to our patients living on the north side of San Antonio," said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) David Young, 59th Medical Wing commander. "This innovative partnership to improve healthcare will provide improved access to services for these beneficiaries."

Approximately 5,600 Wilford Hall patients have been identified and notified as those who would benefit the most from being seen at the NCFC. Officials looked at active duty dependents, retirees and retiree family members, enrolled in TRICARE Prime, who live in the north central San Antonio area. These individuals were then assessed by their medical needs and the level of services available at the NCFC.

The NCFC currently won't be open to active duty personnel. Active duty personnel will continue to be seen at their current care locations.

"Enrollment currently has been maximized," said Major Peipelman. "However, we will be looking at demand in the area and considering options over the next six months, such as active duty sick call, to increase access if demand warrants."

Hospital officials, along with congressional and federal leaders, will be following the success of the clinic closely for consideration for other joint facilities to begin using joint leadership and staffing.

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