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PCMH ensures quality medical service to patients

Capt. Jesse Gronsky, 28th Medical Operations Squadron physician assistant, left, Airman Makenna Jensen, 28th MDOS medical technician, center, and Capt. Lisis Davila, 28th MDOS team nurse, are a part of the family health clinic team at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 15, 2016. The clinic is broken up into three teams, Acers, Angels and Bombers, and provide care for more than 11,000 patients. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert/Released)

Capt. Jesse Gronsky, 28th Medical Operations Squadron physician assistant, left, Airman Makenna Jensen, 28th MDOS medical technician, center, and Capt. Lisis Davila, 28th MDOS team nurse, are a part of the family health clinic team at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 15, 2016. The clinic is broken up into three teams, Acers, Angels and Bombers, and provide care for more than 11,000 patients. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Not a week goes by when the 28th Medical Group is not available to service Airmen and their families' immediate chronic issues.

The quality of the medical facilities service will be validated to Joint Commission Patient Centered Medical Home standards by a survey that will run April 4 through 6, 2016.

"Meeting that standard means that we are just as good as the facilities across the country," said Lt. Col. Cecelia Tatsumi, 28th MDG chief of medical staff. "Sometimes people question 'is military medicine as good as civilian?' The answer is yes, because we follow the same national standards."

PCMH is a model used to organize the core functions of facility medical care provider and can be modified to improve the organization.

The structure divides the Family Health Clinic into three teams: Acers, Bombers and Angels. Each team consists of one doctor, two mid-level providers, a nurse, four to five medical technicians and an administrative technician. Every provider has an empanelment of 1,250 patients and ensures there are 90 bookable appointments every week for patients.

Tatsumi commented since the implementation of PCMH in 2008, there have been a few changes to the program for improvement, such as the MiCare system, which provides secure messaging between patients, their provider and team members, and staff support protocols, which standardize processes to make anyone on their team available for consultation.

"I would think that it makes it easier for the patients and the medical facility," Tatsumi said. "Even if we're [the primary doctor] booked, our patients can still call and get an appointment scheduled because the continuity is there, the team knows what you are dealing with and we can treat things much better versus if you were initially seen downtown and they don't even know who you are."

Maj. Lori Walker, 28th Medical Operations Squadron family health flight commander, stated their support staff protocol allow patients to walk-in for lab results, sore throats, pregnancy tests, suture removals and certain injections.

Tatsumi said the PCMH standards benefit providers as well.

"Provider satisfaction is an important concept in the Air Force," Tatsumi said. "They look into how we can retain good providers to care for our patients, and by giving providers some ownership of processes and encouraging team concepts by working with the same people daily, personnel can maximize the efficiency of care they deliver to patients."

With the program, patients are able to change their primary care manager by contacting Tricare and requesting a change, or by visiting the clinic's Tricare Operations Patient Administration desk and filling out an application.

Since PCMH, the 28th MDG clinic has received several awards such as the number one Air Combat Command Clinic of the Year in 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2015, and was accredited the 2009 ACC Family Health Initiative Team of the Year, the 2014 Air Force PCMH Team of the Year, and the 2011 and 2015 Association of Military Surgeons of the United States Facility-based Healthcare Award.

Whether needing quick or long-term care, the 28th MDG will be there for the members of Ellsworth.

Walk-in hours are from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. For more information on the clinic and resources it offers, call the 28th MDG at (605) 385-6700.