When American Soldiers leave home to fight for their
country, many return with various injuries.
“To get the critical health treatment they need many have to go to
places like Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Md. where
they have to separate from their units and uproot their families so that they
can be with them. This can cause great anxiety, stress and depression
complicating their health conditions further,” said Staff Sgt. Elizandro
Gonzales, Occupational Therapy (Non-commissioned officer in charge) at Fort
Drum N.Y. Medical Department Activity.
This will now be a thing of the past. The U.S. Army
Medical Department Activity has redesigned its health care services so that
Soldiers can remain on their installations with their units and families and promptly
receive the critical care they need all in one place.
This is now taking place at Fort Drum, home of the 10th
Mountain Division (LI), one of the most deployed divisions in the U.S. Army.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, the
Army’s construction agent, recently completed the construction of two Soldier
medical clinics on the installation that is using this new design.
According to Gonzales, “Many studies have shown that
people who are undergoing a healing process or who are trying to recover, that
their stress level is directly affected by their ability to heal, so anything
we can do to lower stress is just going to be better for the patient.”
The new clinics are the Soldier Specialty Care Clinic and
the Bowe Troop Medical Clinic. Both clinics were constructed by the contractor,
Structural Associates Inc. of Syracuse, New York under the management of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The clinics are part of an existing medical complex on
the installation and were added to help establish the Army’s new Soldier health
care design and to support medical readiness.
The 23,000 square foot clinics were constructed with
energy efficient features making it Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) Silver certifiable.
Some of these energy efficient features include low
ampere lighting fixtures, double thermal windows, white roofing to reflect
heat, and high efficiency boiler, air conditioning and heating systems.
Bowe Troop Medical Clinic
This clinic is considered a one stop shop for Soldiers to
receive primary care and medical readiness services. The clinic also provides
medical care for American and Canadian Air Force members visiting the
The clinic includes space for 16 examination rooms, a
radiology department, medical records department, a laboratory department,
procedure room, and triage area.
“When a Soldier comes in to see us we can usually get
them an appointment within 24 hours,” said Maj. Tranessia M. Hanson, Chief,
Bowe Troop Medical Clinic Complex. “You don't see this type of care in a lot of
places. In the past this would take three days and now we can get treat them in
less than 24 hours.”
Soldiers who are patients at this clinic who may need
additional medical care can receive a referral and receive treatment at the
recently completed the Soldier Specialty Care Clinic.
The Soldier Specialty Care Clinic
The Soldier Specialty Care Clinic is connected to the
Guthrie Ambulatory Healthcare Clinic and will provide occupational therapy
services and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) care to Soldiers.
“Soldiers can receive functional fitness treatment which
will allow them to return to duty faster and better. They can get functional
evaluations and functional capacity evaluations which is ultimately an
assessment of their capability to perform,” said Gonzales.
“This has implications. It can return a soldier to duty
with a better explanation for their chain of command of their capabilities or
it can provide a medical board a very clear picture of the deficits that these
Gonzales added that the Soldiers who come into this
clinic benefit greatly because the facility is consolidated and has three
occupational therapies under one roof.
“In the past soldiers needing different care would have
to go to different medical centers spread-out on the installation. Now all occupational therapy treatment is
under one roof,” said Staff Sgt. Gonzales.
He continued, “This allows for inter-specialty
consultation. A provider from the TBI
section who suspects that a patient might benefit from something the Orthopedic
section has to offer can just walk right down the hallway. They can consult
with the providers in those sections and come up with a better clearer
treatment plan. That will hopefully be more effective in returning the Soldiers
back to duty or return them to any level of independence they may not currently
Helping Soldiers recover is performed in many different
ways. One of the ways the health care providers does this is by using
activities of the Daily Living Room.
This is a room that is set up like a real functioning
home to help Soldiers perform self-care tasks, such as bathing, eating,
grooming, feeding and taking care of others.
Health care providers work with Soldiers, sometimes with the assistance
of families members, to help them do such things as make their bed, make
coffee, and cook dinner for their family.
Just outside of this room there is a Healing Garden where
Soldiers can rest before or after their therapy. The garden is also part of the
Army’s new Soldier healthcare design.
Gonzales said, “We want Soldiers to be in an environment
that is conducive to their rehabilitation and guided by skilled therapy staff
which is what we have here. Overall it's going to be much better for the
Soldiers. This set up is the new plan of Army wide health facilities. It's a
lot of exciting stuff.”