Medical Department Activity-Alaska provides medical care to over 21,000 beneficiaries throughout the state of Alaska.
Headquarters for the organization, located in Fort. Wainwright, is at Bassett Army Community Hospital where the majority of beneficiary health care is provided. Additional services are offered at Kamish Army Medical Home and the outlying clinics of Fort Greely Army Medical Home. Located in Delta Junction, Alaska and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Medical Home in Anchorage, Alaska.
While temperatures regularly dip to -40 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, and snow remains on the ground for nine months out of the year, weather is only one part of making Alaska an austere environment in which to provide medical care. Being geographically isolated from many critical care assets provides additional challenges for leadership and staff to overcome.
To provide care in such an austere environment, MEDDAC-AK has implemented several initiatives, pilot programs and partnerships to ensure the highest level of care possible for our beneficiaries.
Tele-Behavioral Health – Leveraging assets at Tripler Army Medical Center and Madigan Army Medical Center for telehealth have been a constant at MEDDAC-AK for its patients. By working closely with behavioral health providers at locations with access, Bassett is able to offer the necessary support for patients in a timely manner, and the feedback from patients receiving tele-behavioral health, remains positive.
Boo to the Flu – Community events during the harsh winter months not only serve to provide a morale boost to staff members and a strong sense of belonging to patients, but improve community health outreach. In interior Alaska, where there is always snow on the ground for Halloween, instead of bundling up the kids, families flock to Bassett for indoor trick-or-treating and their annual flu vaccination. With more than 2,000 people through the door during the two-hour event, it is a highlight during the winter for both staff and community members.
Virtual Personal Health Assessments (PHA) – MEDDAC-AK currently serves as a pilot site for Virtual PHAs. Soldiers from Fort Wainwright meet virtually with providers from Fort Greely AMH in order to meet demand, improve readiness and create additional access to care.
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) – While not unique to MEDDAC-AK, the EFMP is a robust piece of ensuring the team is able to provide care to Soldiers and their family members. The EFMP team works diligently to review medical histories of potential incoming Soldiers and family members to confirm Bassett has any specialty care services needed either on-postor in the private sector before approving command sponsorship. The team is preemptive to confirming Soldiers and family members are not assigned to Fort Wainwright if they have conditions that exceed the facility’s capabilities.
The harsh Alaska environment requires strong community partnerships with both military and private entities throughout the state to ensure the highest level of care to its patients. Bassett ACH works closely with civilian hospitals - Fairbanks Memorial Hospital locally and Providence Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Most notably, a solid partnership has been built with other federal entities across the state through the Alaska Federal Health Care Partnership, which includes the Indian Health Service, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Coast Guard. These partnerships provide resource sharing in the realm of advanced training, supply chain management and patient care, saving tax payer dollars as well as offering patients care closer to home and in a timely manner.
While these partnerships benefit MEDDAC-AK first-hand, in turn, the teamprovides benefits to its partners. The Bassett Medical Warehouse not only serves those within its footprint, but also serves as a distribution point for more than 30 remote Alaska villages to provide medical supplies to village health clinics in remote locations accessible only by plane or boat.Bassett Army Community Hospital Medical Department Activity-Alaska
Bassett Army Community Hospital, the only Army hospital in Alaska, is located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. As part of Medical Department Activity-Alaska, Bassett ACH includes command and control of Kamish Army Medical Home and the outlying clinics of Fort Greely Army Medical Home, Delta Junction, Alaska; and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Medical Home, Anchorage, Alaska.
MEDDAC-AK provides health care through teamwork to ensure a globally ready force. Its vision is to be a high reliability organization – fully trusted, innovative and integrated within the community. Bassett ACH, provides medical care in a state-of-the-art facility to both Army and Air Force Service Members, family members, veterans and retirees. As one of only two hospitals in interior Alaska, Bassett ACH plays a critical role in the care of more than 22,559 eligible beneficiaries throughout the state.
The Bassett ACH facility boasts nine staffed med-surg beds, seven obstetric suites, four operating rooms, a 64-slice CT scanner, MRI and provides both routine and specialty care.
With 795 civilian and military employees across the footprint, on an average day Bassett ACH provides 921 clinic visits, cares for 10 inpatients, fills more than 760 prescriptions, performs 100 radiological and 691 laboratory procedures, and delivers two new babies into our military family.
- Bassett ACH is a test site for virtual Personal Health Assessments. Soldiers from Fort Wainwright meet virtually with providers from Fort Greely AMH in order to meet demand, improve readiness and create additional access to care.
- The Bassett ACH Medical Warehouse not only serves those within its footprint, but it also serves as a distribution point for more than 30 remote Alaska villages in order to provide medical supplies to village health clinics in remote locations accessible only by plane or boat.
- A memorandum of agreement is being worked between Bassett ACH and Indian Health Services to provide care for IHS beneficiaries within the Bassett ACH footprint.
The austere Alaska environment requires strong community partnerships with both military and private entities throughout the state to ensure the highest level of care to beneficiaries.
Bassett ACH works closely with civilian hospitals - Fairbanks Memorial Hospital locally and Providence Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Most notably, a solid partnership has been built with other federal entities across the state through the Alaska Federal Health Care Partnership, which includes Indian Health Service, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Coast Guard. These partnerships provide resource sharing in the realm of advanced training, supply chain management and beneficiary care, saving tax payer dollars as well as offering beneficiaries care closer to home and in a timely manner.
MEDDAC-AK provides world-class facilities to beneficiaries with continual renovations and upgrades to facilities and capabilities. Recently completed and ongoing projects include:
- Creating an embedded behavioral health clinic with 11 provider offices, a training/conference room and four patient kiosks.
- Upgrades to all wireless connections within Bassett ACH to ensure more reliable access for providers.
- A complete Physical Therapy Department remodel to create more floor space for PT equipment and patient access.
- 93 additional parking spaces for beneficiaries and staff members with easier access to Bassett ACH.
- Converting unused meeting space into administrative offices for the Logistics Department.
- Remodeling the Kamish AMH reception desk to include automatic security gates, Level III security glass and upgrading the building’s public announcement system.
- Upgrading the Siemens’ fire alarm system throughout the footprint with new system to activate zone controls and an advanced graphics system.
By Brandy C. Ostanik
Getting immunizations at Bassett Army Community Hospital became easier for beneficiaries in March with some process improvements put into place through between the immunizations clinic and pediatrics department.
The first change implemented asks beneficiaries to check in with a medical support assistant at any of the open check-in windows found in the primary care reception area. While the clinic is still open on a walk-in basis and appointments are not needed, the new process takes place of an outdated ‘pull a number’ system which has been in place since Bassett ACH opened in 2007.
“By listening to our patients and hearing the struggles of our staff, we knew the number pulling system was not working,” said Maj. Brandi Lange, clinical nurse officer in charge of primary care at Bassett ACH.
The biggest issue alleviated was the inability for the system to alert an immunizations staff member when a patient was waiting. By checking in with a medical support assistant upon their arrival, the immunizations clinic is alerted immediately.
“Not only does the immunizations staff get alerted immediately when a patient is waiting, but they also receive a note letting them know what service the patient needs, which allows them to prepare more efficiently,” said Lange.
A bigger, lengthier process improvement project now allows patients to receive their immunizations within the pediatrics department during their well-baby or well-child visit, as opposed to being sent from their appointment to wait at the immunizations clinic.
“We have a nurse dedicated to working immunizations within the pediatrics department,” said Lange. “This keeps our patients from leaving an appointment, and waiting in line to receive immunizations through the immunizations department.”
Lange says that while the changes have been a welcome improvement for the staff in both the pediatrics and immunizations, the changes were really all about listening to the feedback from patients.
“We were receiving comments from parents who were frustrated with the systems we had in place,” said Lange. “Taking a look at those processes and finding out the best way to make improvements while ensuring the safety of patients made sense for everyone.”
Three weeks into the changes the feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We loved being able to do vaccines in the appointment room,” said one parent in an Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) comment. “It made it so much easier for me and my baby.”