TEMPLE (February 13, 2013) — Scott & White Healthcare has been selected to receive the Texas Hospital Association’s 2012 Excellence in Community Service Award in recognition of the hospital’s Military Homefront Services project. The award will be presented Feb. 13 at the THA 2013 Annual Conference and Expo in Austin.
“Scott & White Healthcare has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to improve the overall health and wellness of their communities,” said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, THA president/chief executive officer. “Providing this kind of service to a population in need is an example of how Texas hospitals like Scott & White go above and beyond to bring the best to their patients.”
Operated by Scott & White with advice on military affairs from the Association of the United States Army, the Military Homefront Services project provides mental health services to the family members of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, as well as civilians and troops affected by the 2009 tragedy at Fort Hood. Since its launch in 2008, the project has provided individual, marital and family counseling to more than 18,000 clients.
“This award is so meaningful to those of us who have worked closely with veterans and their families on this project,” said Matthew Wright, Scott & White’s Vice President of Philanthropy and Operations. “We are in awe of the sacrifices these men and women have made for our country. It is rewarding to be able to make a difference in these families’ lives.”
As service members returned to Fort Hood after multiple tours of duty in recent years, troops, spouses and other family members expressed a need for assistance. Military families were enduring difficult adjustments as troops moved between the battlefront and the home front. In particular, as soldiers came home suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), their children sometimes displayed similar symptoms. Related problems included increased risks of alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, divorce and suicide.
As they became aware of more and more families’ struggles, Scott & White and Lt. General Donald Jones, a volunteer consultant to the Homefront project, saw a need to help. In 2007, clinicians began collaborating to determine how nearby Scott & White could address the situation.
“As a community health care provider, we were seeing a significant range of problems,” said Wright. “We could either treat the family when they came into the ER, or we could treat them in a more proactive sense.”
With initial funding from The Dallas Foundation, Military Homefront Services was launched as a licensed behavioral health program encompassing a spectrum of therapies, services, assessments and educational opportunities. Clients can access a variety of therapeutic resources, including neurobiological re-regulation and trauma resolution intervention services used to “reset” combat stress, the acute behavioral problems sometimes experienced by service members as a result of war trauma.
“You go over there, and you wear and tear,” Jones said. “Resetting combat stress is a matter of bringing people back, in their minds and in their hearts, to the status they were in before they left.”
The project has seen many military families through multiple deployments, and word-of-mouth recommendations have resulted in waiting lists for services for years. The results have been remarkable. In 2012, veterans who received treatment showed a 20 percent reduction in both anxiety and depression after 90 days, as measured on the Beck Inventory. Similarly, veterans displayed a 20 percent decrease in symptoms of PTSD. Patient satisfaction ranked in the 80th percentile.
“From the start, we were flexible and open enough to make sure the program could meet clients’ needs as the war developed over the past 10 years,” Wright said. “If you look at the World War II generation, they deployed, they were gone for two or three years, and then they came home. In Vietnam, it was a similar scenario. This one is a little bit different, so the program has had to evolve based on those needs.”
While the military and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offer counseling services, Military Homefront Services is different. Counseling is not reported on troops’ military records. All records are encrypted and confidential, so troops and their family members can access expert mental health services without fear of encountering social stigma or damaging their military careers. In addition, because the project is supported by philanthropic funding, Military Homefront Services offers free, unlimited sessions with permanent counselors. This provides a continuity and familiarity that makes for a unique experience.
Overall, the project aims for convenience and accessibility. Services are provided at two Scott & White clinics in Killeen, just minutes from Fort Hood. All counselors come from military families or have been specifically trained in military culture.
One of the project’s most innovative features is Homefront University, a program offering life skills education. Taught by project staff members, courses focus on resilience and rejuvenation. For example, Homefront University addresses issues that can impact veterans who have families, such as reconnecting with their families on arriving home, and reestablishing trust and attachment that might have been lost during time away. Because courses are offered through community collaborations with organizations such as the Texas A&M Health Science Center, Homefront University provides a way of disseminating lessons learned from Military Homefront Services to other service providers throughout the region.
“This project has been an excellent example of collaboration – a linking of the military community’s needs and a private hospital system’s ability to help,” said Wright. “We like to add an academic and research portion to help inform the Department of Defense about services they need to provide the military forces in the future.”
About Texas Hospital Association
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents more than 85 percent of the state’s acute-care hospitals and health care systems, which employ more than 369,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.
About Scott & White Healthcare
Scott &White Healthcare is a non-profit collaborative health care system established in 1897 in Temple, Texas. Among the leading health systems encompassing one of the nation's largest multi-specialty group practices, Scott & White provides personalized, comprehensive health care enhanced by medical education and research. Scott & White Healthcare includes 12 hospital sites with two additional announced facilities, and 178 clinics at more than 65 clinic locations throughout Central Texas providing adult and pediatric care in 46 medical specialties. Integrated, high-quality care is delivered by a dedicated staff of more than 14,000 (including 1,000 employed physicians and scientists and more than 300 advanced practice providers). For more information, visit sw.org.