By Tech. Sgt. Amanda Currier, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 01, 2016
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The Spangdahlem Military Treatment Facility staff here held an Eifel Health Consortium on base Oct. 27 for more than 20 German doctors from four major, local hospitals in Bitburg, Trier, and Wittlich, Germany.
The event marked the first executive-level, healthcare collaboration event of this magnitude at a U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa base.
“We could not do without the medical support and expertise we receive from the local hospitals,” said Col. Alfred K. Flowers, Jr., 52nd Medical Group commander here. “We provide exceptional acute care at here, but we rely solely on medical professionals in the local community to meet specialty care needs for Spangdahlem families.”
The consortium gave German and base medical professionals an opportunity to discuss, face-to-face, respective healthcare capabilities, practices, philosophies, approaches and concerns. The event also allowed German medical providers to tour Spangdahlem’s 75,000-square-foot MTF that houses a staff of more than 300 medical personnel from 21 different fields.
During the tour, German doctors got a firsthand look at several sections of the treatment facility including optometry, public health, women’s health, pediatrics, radiology, the lab, the pharmacy and more.
“It’s a really great building – all these different specialties and a pharmacy under one roof. It’s different from how we do outpatient care in Germany,” said Dr. Thomas Koch, chief of the gastroenterology praxis at the Marienhaus Klinikum Eifel, a hospital in Bitburg, Germany, who sees about 240 patients from Spangdahlem a year.
Before the tour, consortium guests received a briefing on Spangdahlem’s mission.
“In order to do what we do well, we need to take care of our folks,” said Col. Joseph McFall, 52nd Fighter Wing commander here who provided the mission briefing. “Part of doing the job is being healthy, and we could not keep our folks healthy without the strong partnership that we have with you,” he told the German doctors.
Then, Flowers provided a presentation on Spangdahlem’s MTF to help local doctors understand how the administrative staff and medical services here are structured.
“It was great, Koch said. “We saw a lot of things that we hadn’t seen before. The pharmacy portion of the tour was very valuable. We now have access to the base pharmacy formulary.”
The formulary provides a list of the medications that the base pharmacy carries. Now, local doctors can refer to the list to help them prescribe medications for Spangdahlem patients that the base pharmacy has on hand. This type of information-sharing is exactly what the consortium was designed to foster, said Flowers.
“Local care providers are a critical link to our ability to provide trusted care anywhere,” Flowers said. “Without hesitation, we’ll send folks off-base for care - knowing that they will receive the best treatment possible.”
In mid-October, Logan Lancaster, a Spangdahlem spouse, had a premature baby at Klinikum Mutterhaus der Borromäerinnen, one of two major hospitals in Trier, Germany. Lancaster is no longer in the hospital, but her newborn daughter, who is doing well, is still an inpatient.
“I don’t feel terrified to leave her there every day,” Lancaster said. “The fact that I know that they take such great care of the babies there really puts my mind at ease.”
“These patients trust us more than they did seven to 10 years ago, and that has a lot to do with the relationship that we have with the base because of events like this,” said Koch.
In the future, the 52nd Medical Group hopes to have similar collaborative efforts on a quarterly basis, said Maj. Sean Finney, TRICARE operations and patient administration flight chief at the MTF here and the chief organizer of the Eifel Health Consortium.
“In all my time in the Air force, I have never seen a better partnership than the one that we have here. It’s unique,” said Flowers.