You might need it again some day
When everything old is new again
Singer/songwriter Peter Allen, “Everything Old is New Again”
FORT POLK, La. — After more than 20 years filling an assortment of roles, a Fort Polk staple has made a return. The Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital’s Combined Troop Medical Clinic officially opened its doors during a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 7.
The CTMC is located in bldg 3504, Georgia Avenue, in the facility known across post as the “Red Roof Inn.”
“More than 20 years ago this building was a troop medical clinic and we’ve now come full circle as we proudly cut the ribbon officially opening Fort Polk’s Combined Troop Medical Clinic,” said Col. David K. Dunning, commander, BJACH.
Dunning, due to relinquish command of BJACH during a change of commander ceremony today, said the clinic would cater to the needs of Fort Polk’s Soldiers.
“Medical assets from the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 115th Combat Support Hospital and the 509th Infantry Regiment, plus BJACH Soldiers and civilian counterparts will staff the facility,” Dunning said. “Included are pharmacy, lab, X-ray, physical therapy, behavioral health, sick call and routine medical care all in a one-stop facility.”
The remodeling effort took seven months at a cost of $1.6 million, Dunning said.
“Every BJACH beneficiary — Soldiers, Family members and retirees — will benefit from this clinic,” Dunning said. “With more than 7,200 Soldiers slated to use the new clinic, BJACH’s Patient-Centered Medical Home Clinic should have more appointments available with shorter waiting times at the Outpatient Pharmacy and lab.”
Dunning said the clinic should have another benefit — improved parking at BJACH.
“The only time Soldiers will have to go to BJACH is for a referral to Specialty Care, Behavioral Health, or more intense physical therapy services.”
Brig. Gen. William Hickman, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, echoed Dunning’s comments, adding a quip about the amount of time taken to complete the project.
“I want to commend you on getting this work done in seven months,” Hickman said. “We’re already three months into the track around the golf course and are nowhere near being complete; perhaps I need to get Colonel Shuck (Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Roger Shuck) to look into this.”
Hickman went on to say how the clinic would positively affect the daily lives of the entire Fort Polk community.
“This is a big deal, not only for the Soldiers who will use this clinic for most of their medical needs, but also for their Families who will benefit with additional appointments at BJACH and reduced wait time at the pharmacy,” Hickman said.
“Despite current budget constraints, the covenant between the Army and its family remains strong: People are our greatest resource — and their health and well being is a top priority.”
Capt. Devin McFadden, officer in charge of the CMTC, said the clinic would not only be beneficial to Soldiers needing medical care, but also for Soldiers holding medical military occupational specialties.
“The clinic will be manned on a rotational basis by medics from the units across Fort Polk,” McFadden said. “That will give them the opportunity to work not only in a clinical environment, but also to deploy when their units go to the field and work in that environment. In the long run, it brings all of our subordinate commands together to collaborate resources and provide better care for Soldiers.”
Capt. Rene Key, CMTC’s chief nurse, said the new clinic provides better overall care for Fort Polk’s Soldiers.
“Some of the unit aid stations had nice facilities, but some didn’t,” she said. “There were even some that didn’t have running water. This will standardize and provide excellent care for all Soldiers.”
Key said she expects a few growing pains as Soldiers get used to coming to the CMTC for sick call and primary care services.
“We’re going to have to change the culture,” she said. “Aid stations are much different than hospitals or clinics and changing that mindset — that culture — will be key.”
For now, McFadden said all Soldiers on Fort Polk will use the CMTC except for the 162nd Infantry Regiment on North Fort, Soldiers assigned to BJACH and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
“We’re still in negotiations with the 4/10, but they’ll be deploying soon, so it will probably be determined after their deployment,” McFadden said. “We just don’t know at this time.”
But for those receiving medical care on Fort Polk, the CMTC should be a winning solution for all.
“Soldiers aren’t going to have to run around as much because most everything they need is under one roof, and congestion should be less at BJACH,” Dunning said. “That makes everyone a winner.”