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BACH behavioral health team honored with Army’s Wolf Pack Award

Image of Military personnel standing in a room, listening to a speaker. Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Commander Army Col. Patrick Birchfield and BACH staff listen as Army Medicine Chief of Staff and Chief of the Army Medical Department Civilian Corps Richard Beauchemin praised the team for its innovative process improvement initiative to streamline patient access to behavioral health resources within the hospital’s primary care clinics. (Photo by Maria Yager, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.)

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A team of soldiers and Army civilians at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky has been formally recognized with the Army Wolf Pack Award for its innovative process improvement initiative that streamlined patient access to behavioral health resources.

The team from BACH was recognized for the second quarter of fiscal 2020 for its efforts to better incorporate the hospital’s behavioral health consultants within the hospital’s primary care clinics. During the initiative, which started in 2018, internal behavioral health consultants were assigned to each of BACH’s medical homes where beneficiaries receive their primary medical care.

Consultants supported healthy behavior changes such as increasing exercise, decreasing work or home stress, quitting smoking, cholesterol and blood pressure management, and weight management. They also helped patients develop plans for improving sleep, managing diabetes, managing chronic pain, migraine management and modifying alcohol use.

Army Surgeon General and Commanding General, Army Medical Command Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle; and Army Medicine Chief of Staff and Chief of the Army Medical Department Civilian Corps Richard Beauchemin presented the team with the award during a virtual ceremony Oct. 21.

The Wolf Pack Award recognizes exceptional teamwork by an integrated group of military and civilian team members in support of Army Medicine.

“You should be extremely pleased with the recognition being bestowed because there are many entries for the Wolf Pack Award,” Dingle told the group. “For you all to receive this extreme honor speaks volumes about the impact you and the entire team are having not just on the installation, but also in the entire United States Army.”

Army Col. Patrick Birchfield, the hospital commander said, “Having behavioral health consultants within our primary care clinics is a great benefit for all enrolled beneficiaries to receive behavioral health support, whether immediately following a primary care visit or scheduled at a later time. This system makes the referral process easy for both the patient and the medical team.”

BACH’s project focused on four areas: increasing referrals; improving integration into a holistic model of care; increasing self-referral appointments and quick hand-off of patients to behavioral health consultants; and removing barriers to referring patients.

The project more than doubled the number of face-to-face clinical encounters per day and decreased the patient no-show rate by 15%.

The team instituted multiple revisions and changes that enhanced the overall patient-centered medical experience, and streamlined patient access for numerous behavioral health needs including reformulating its methods as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Most of my appointments have been and continue to be virtual health phone calls since the pandemic,” said Joan Lovett, one of the hospital’s behavioral health consultants. “My face-to-face appointments are increasing, but a lot of people still feel more comfortable with the phone calls.”

Each consultant sees eight to 13 patients per day either virtually or face-to-face, and the need for their service continues to grow.

“We’ve obviously seen an increase in stress, anxiety and depression because of the pandemic” said Lovett. The behavioral health consultants are committed to helping patients adjust to the “new normal.”

“Throughout the project, our team members met regularly, identifying measurable goals, implementing protocols and tracking the data. By the end of the project, we could see the success it provided to our beneficiaries, and we could share our model with other military treatment facilities within the military health system,” said Birchfield. “These efforts and their adjustments for continued success during the initiative, and, in light of the COVID response, illustrate exceptional teamwork and noteworthy outcomes by our team.”

To learn more about the Army Wolf Pack Award, visit their webpage.

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