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Madigan program to increase access to behavioral services

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:50PM July 11th, 2013

Madigan Army Medical Center’s behavioral health department is mirroring a successful pilot program at Fort Carson, Colo., that embeds behavioral health professionals in unit footprints, increasing access to behavioral health services for service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Since the Army adopted embedded behavioral health as a model in May 2012, five brigades at JBLM have acquired embedded behavioral health clinics. Remaining units are receiving behavioral health services from two other behavioral health homes at Madigan Annex — Denali and Yukon. The two clinics were born out of Madigan’s main behavioral health clinic, which no longer provides walk-in services.

Madigan psychiatrist Dr. Dan Christensen said units served by the behavioral health homes will eventually have their own embedded behavioral health clinics, although funding and office space are limited.

Regardless of the challenges, Christensen said unit feedback is positive.

“We had a centralized system and now we have a team-based approach,” he said. “It’s been well received. The units want more.”

The team Christensen describes includes seven behavioral health providers, two behavioral health technicians, one licensed practical nurse and two medical support assistants. A nurse case manager will also be on staff, a position not previously included in traditional military behavioral health services. The team is 100 percent civilian staffed, he said, and not affected by government furloughs.

Among the benefits of embedded teams, Christensen said, are that providers can follow deployment and training cycles more closely to offer more comprehensive consultations to service members. The arrangement also enhances communication between providers together in one location.

“It’s more centered,” he said. “There is a behavioral health team for the community of that brigade.”

For service members, embedded behavioral health means driving a very short distance or even walking to clinic locations within the unit footprints. But Christensen admits the convenient location brings confidentiality issues, with some service members not wanting to be seen by a behavioral health professional at the workplace.

“Most Soldiers seem to be comfortable with it,” he said. “Rather than destigmatize (behavioral health), we need to normalize it.”

Soldiers may walk into their embedded behavioral health clinic during normal business hours or on their own. Soldiers can also obtain a referrals from their primary care providers or have another Soldier escort them to the clinic. After hours, service members should go to Madigan’s emergency department or call 911.

A sexual assault clinic also opened July 1 at Madigan. The Sequoia clinic is located on the first floor of the hospital’s tower and provides sexual assault treatment and prevention services. Individuals can self-refer to the clinic or obtain a medical referral from their primary care provider.

Christensen understands the transition to embedded behavioral health and behavioral health homes is a culture change for JBLM, but Soldiers are spreading the word about the benefits.

“It’s being felt throughout the units,” he said. “This is one thing that has made a huge difference.”

For more information about behavioral health services offered through Madigan, call 968-2700.

Clinics at a glance

Embedded Behavioral Health Units

2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Bldg. 11771, Lewis North, 253-967-1481

3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Bldg. P3849, Lewis Main, 253-966-3640

4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Nisqually Clinic, Lewis Main, 253-967-7337

17th Fires Brigade/555th Engineer Brigade, Bldg. 13815, Lewis North, 253-967-8283

1st Special Forces Group, Bldg. 9924D, Madigan Annex, 253-477-0999

2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Bldg. 9924D, Madigan Annex, 253-968-6371

Behavioral Health Homes

Denali Clinic, Bldg. 9920A, Madigan Annex, 253-968-4851

Serving I Corps Headquarters, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, 62nd Medical Brigade, 42nd Military Police Brigade, 35th Signal Brigade, 6th Criminal Investigation Division

Yukon Clinic, Bldg. 9924B, Madigan Annex, 253-968-6442

Serving 7th Infantry Division Headquarters, 593rd Sustainment Brigade, 31st Air Defense Artillery, 71st Ordnance Group, 48th Chemical Brigade, 189th Infantry Brigade, 191st Infantry Brigade, Madigan Troop Command

McChord Clinic, Bldg. 690, Barnes Blvd, McChord Field, 253-982-3684/3685

Serving the 62nd Airlift Wing and McChord Field