Tripler offers innovative, new initiatives under AFC

| October 28, 2010 | 0 Comments

Jan Clark
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Tripler continues its commitment to quality health care by adding new services such as its two new disaster response trailers at Tripler and the Schofield Barracks Health Clinic. The trailers provide emergency medical treatment in military and civilian communities. (Courtesy Photo)HONOLULU — Tripler Army Medical Center has several initiatives in place to support the Army Family Covenant’s promise of increasing the accessibility to and the quality of health care.

Among these is the long-standing Augmentation of Special-Needs Services and Information for Students and Teachers, or the ASSIST program. 

In March 1999, Hawaii’s U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye contacted Tripler to find out what was being dong to augment medical services for special needs children. Inouye’s request then became the basis for a research/demonstration project called ASSIST.

Since its inception, ASSIST has helped more than 4,500 children and their families through nearly 50,000 encounters. The project is available to all eligible Department of Defense beneficiaries in Hawaii. 

“Our job is to improve children’s quality of life with school-based services,” said Dr. Thomas Gallagher, chief, Developmental Pediatrics, TAMC. “Children benefit by having their unique strengths and weaknesses accurately identified, and (by) having appropriate educational supports and services put into place as early as possible.”

The ASSIST team consists of psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and a licensed clinical social worker.

The social worker is a military medical coordinator who links the appropriate medical care, information and resources. Psychologists provide evaluation, diagnosis, consultation on education planning, and parent/family consultation and support, while physical and occupational therapists provide medically-based treatment to students.

“Because ASSIST services are provided most often at the child’s school, personnel can readily observe the child within his/her school setting and obtain a valid picture of (the) functioning (level),” Gallagher said. “This leads to benefits for the parents and families in learning about the child’s level of functioning and what they can do to support his/her development and self-esteem. This also benefits the schools with their access to all our services.”

In addition to providing ASSIST, Tripler is in the process of instituting a patient-centered medical “home” model, which emphasizes patients’ access to their unique medical provider, according to Dr. Sean Harap, chief, Internal Medicine Clinic, TAMC. The unique medical provider will guide a team of support providers, including behavioral health providers, pharmacists, social workers and nurses, to provide proactive care to service members and their families. 

“The patients’ own personal health care provider is there to help navigate the patient through the Army health care system, which sometimes involves care in the private sector as well,” Harap said.

The proactive care uses the full array of available health care to attempt to prevent disease and/or provide ongoing disease management, to lessen the impact of sickness on the individual. This method is in contrast to reactive care, which merely responds to disease after it has happened or has potentially worsened.

“It is always easier to try and prevent a disease from occurring, or catch it early on, to lessen its impact, rather than wait for the disease to progress or face a catastrophic disease that might have not occurred if caught earlier,” Harap said. “We believe in (AFC) and look forward to providing (service and family members) the best health care in the Pacific.”

Category: Community, Special Inserts

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