For the past 10 years, William Beaumont Army Medical Center beneficiaries who weren’t active-duty service members had one choice for their behavioral health needs, get a referral.
On Aug. 10, William Beaumont Army Medical Center presented a certificate of appreciation to the El Paso Behavioral Health System for their continued support in treating beneficiaries with behavioral health issues at WBAMC. The certificate of appreciation not only signified 10 years of support but also a new chapter for WBAMC’s Inpatient Behavioral Health ward, as it once again begins to admit inpatient behavioral health patients other than active-duty service members.
Due to conflicts overseas, the ward had limited inpatient services to strictly active-duty personnel returning from deployments, while referring other beneficiaries to services in the city of El Paso. Since the deployment tempo has decreased and Soldiers are seeing less and less conflict, the utilization of the ward has decreased, allowing others to be treated at WBAMC.
“Over the course of the last few years our bed utilization has gone down,” said Lt. Col. Toddy Ingram, chief, Multiservice, Nursing, WBAMC. “The implementation of community behavioral health centers on post also allows Soldiers to get treated closer to their units.”
On Fort Bliss, there are seven outpatient behavioral health clinics where Soldiers may receive a variety of behavioral health care including psychiatric care, medication management, individual and group psychotherapy, diagnostic evaluation and psychological testing, neuropsychological services, child and adolescent care, command evaluations, Medical Social Work Services and child and spousal abuse services.
The more accessible inpatient behavioral health services at WBAMC are limited to beneficiaries over the age of 18. For more complex cases, referrals are still available to patients who may require specialized care.
“We still believe in patient-centered care and support the wishes of patients,” said Ingram, referencing the referral process. “It improves our coordination of care with external behavioral health facilities.”
The availability of behavioral health inpatient services at WBAMC also improves access to care for beneficiaries. Currently WBAMC’s inpatient behavioral health ward has a capacity for 18 patients with plans to expand in the near future.
“We maintain relationships with local mental health services in case of full capacity and for any special medical needs of our patients,” said Ingram, a native of Americus, Georgia. “It’s not about just filling the beds; it’s about getting our beneficiaries the care at the appropriate time with the appropriate resources.”
In addition to opening its doors to more beneficiaries, the department is still looking toward the future with wishes of implementing more evidence-based mental health practices.
“Mental Health and behavioral health are very important to us,” said Ingram. “(Beneficiaries) have a choice; we want them to know that WBAMC is also a place to get care.”
Author: Marcy Sanchez – William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office