• MAHC Readiness Center nears completion

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The renovation of the new Readiness Center at Munson Army Health Center has been underway since November 2017 and will be fully open for use March 5.
    The center will combine the audiology, optometry, allergy and immunization clinics, and the physical health department making for a smoother experience for patients.
    “The intent is to get back to the one-stop shop kind of concept,” said Medical Department Activity and MAHC Commander Col. David Cassella.
    To complete the renovation, MAHC Facilities Manager Bob Crawford and his team renovated optometry into immunization, and relocated audiology to what was formerly Military Human Resources. There are now two unisex restrooms, three optometry exam rooms, three physical testing rooms, a large immunization room and offices for the exam doctor, the exam technician and the registered nurse in charge of the entire exam area.
    “I’ve just about remodeled this whole place,” Crawford said.
    Crawford also tore down several walls to create a larger, more welcoming waiting area that will be more comfortable for patients. MAHC Public Affairs Officer Tracy McClung said Crawford also installed special cloud lighting in the waiting area.
    “His lighting here, it’s kind of dim and there’s a reason for that,” she said. “With optometry, they dilate people’s eyes, (patients) come out here and it’s just a pleasant place to sit and wait. The lights can go up and they can go down even further, but what’s so nice is it’s just a nice calming place to sit. I think it’s just genius.”
    Cassella said Crawford and his team were key components of the work that was done and often went above and beyond when working.
    “(Crawford) has done a great job and needs a lot of credit for making this happen,” Cassella said. “Bob’s a Navy guy. He keeps this place just right, clean and very professional. He took some aesthetic cues and built the kind of cloud spaces in there … He works very humbly in what he does and I don’t think sometimes he and his staff get the accolades.”
    Cassella said because much of the construction took place where optometry was still seeing patients, Crawford and his team contracted to do the work on the weekends and evenings, which made for less disruption for the patients and the staff.
    Cassella said Readiness Center Officer-in-Charge Maj. John Dunning deserved recognition, too.
    “Major Dunning has done a great job of leading this process,” Cassella said. “(He’s) herding cats. Some folks have worked together, others have not. We’re taking in the Allergy Department that used to work under Family Medicine and now they’re going to work under a new department … Even as small scale as we are, it’s a pretty significant project and (he’s) making sure we don’t do any harm to patients and things work the way they should.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Though all services will be up and running March 5, Cassella said it is more of a soft opening until the grand opening in mid-April.
    “The intent of the soft opening is to help us work out the kinks,” he said. “You’re putting four or five departments that have not previously worked together, together and getting their systems and process in place so that we can figure it out to better serve the customer. ”
    Throughout the soft opening, Cassella said it’s wise to be prepared for a possible change in hours for the different departments based on how everything meshes together.
    Cassella said there are several benefits that come along with the renovation.
    “The primary benefit was for the customer. So, the idea was one, we brought all the referrals of the (Periodic Health Assessment) … all in one place,” he said.
    “(It also will) achieve savings in staffing in the standpoint of front desk staffing, and I’m going to free up some space in my Family Medicine Clinic, which I need more space for providers, and that helps by taking immunization and moving it downstairs. We gain space in some of those areas.”
    Because immunization is being moved from the Gentry Clinic building to the main facility, Cassella said new changes are set to come to Gentry as well.
    “We’ve shifted as much of our administrative side of doing business to Gentry minus the Behavioral Health side,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll be able to expand some of Behavioral Health. In the long-term, there will be some growth afforded to them. As the department expands in the sense of both a need and also for their capabilities we intend to do, that space will be available for them.”
    Cassella said there are two main points to the new center.
    “The main focus of this was to get after the Army’s initiative to improve readiness. So, the goal is that we’ve taken and minimized the amount of movement and locations that a service member will have to go to not only when they in-process but also when they’re doing routine maintenance of their health,” he said.
    “Indirectly, as we improve efficiency in our operations, that leaves funding elsewhere to gain more capacity, hire more providers, do things so there’s some savings that we hope to gain from that which will help overall. It saves the Army money and it also improves how we do business.”
    For more information and updates, visit the MAHC Facebook page at www.facebook.com /munsonhealth/.
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