Here are answers to a comprehensive set of questions pertaining to service changes at Ireland Army Community Hospital. We will update this list as new information becomes available in order to keep you informed of all the changes as Ireland transitions to an outpatient clinic. Newest responses will be listed first in bold type.
UPDATED MAY 11, 2016
Q: Is the Operating Room closing earlier than expected?
A: The operation room/surgical services will limit all NEW inpatient surgical cases beginning June 1. Cesarean sections and all currently scheduled surgeries will continue; however the hospital will not schedule any NEW inpatient surgeries after June 1 due to operating room staffing changes and their impact on maintaining safe, quality care. Any surgical procedure involving a hospital inpatient admission AND an overnight stay is considered inpatient surgery. Patients can contact the Ireland Patient Representative 502-624-9011 if they have questions.
Q: Why is Fort Knox’s Ireland Army Community Hospital changing from a hospital to a clinic?
A: The Army decision was based on a thorough and independent analysis of performance metrics that exceeded the scope and parameters of the recommendations included in the Military Health System Modernization Study. This study included a review of personnel productivity benchmarks, an assessment of beneficiary demands for care, and business practices to facilitate efficient and effective health care delivery. Ireland supports a smaller, healthier population at Fort Knox. Combined with a national movement toward ambulatory care, these changes have resulted in a significantly decreased inpatient census at Ireland. The changes allow the Army to best optimize its medical workforce to support of readiness, quality care and safety.
Q: Is Fort Knox the only installation that will experience a hospital change?
A: No, the Army authorized the Army Medical Command to begin transitioning Army hospitals at Fort Knox, Fort Sill and Fort Jackson to Army health clinics to best meet the demands of the Army.
Q: Does this change signal that there will be further unit/organization downsizings or deactivations at Fort Knox?
A: The upcoming transformation of the hospital is due to the past unit/organization changes that Fort Knox has seen within the last decade or so. This does not forecast future unit/organization changes.
Q: How can the Army maintain its commitment to ensuring beneficiaries receive high-quality care when Fort Knox’s Military Treatment Facility is reduced?
A: We are aligning the right capabilities, at the right time, in the right places to enhance the readiness of the Total Army Force and health of Soldiers and beneficiaries. Our mission remains the same and the Ireland Army Community Hospital leadership will continue to leverage partnerships with community providers to ensure timely access to high quality healthcare is sustained. These providers have already demonstrated a commitment to provide healthcare services to our servicemembers, retirees and their families.
Q: What is the timeline on all of the major hospital changes to take place?
A: The timeline for this transition is highly dependent on our ability to retain personnel through the transition period. We will be prepared to begin suspending some services in October and we will provide advance notice of changes to services. All inpatient, emergency department and surgical services will end by Dec. 15, 2016.
Q: Is Ireland Army Community Hospital itself transitioning to a clinic, or will it remain a hospital until construction of the new clinic on post is completed?
A: The current facility will function as a clinic until the new clinic is open in 2019.
Q: When will Ireland Army Community Hospital become a clinic?
A: The hospital will transition into a large Army clinic by Dec. 15.
Q: What services will be offered at Ireland Army Community Hospital when it becomes a clinic?
A: The new clinic will support our military mission by providing primary care and select non-surgical specialty care. Planned services include: family medicine, internal medicine, acute care, occupational health, community health, radiology, laboratory, behavioral health, dental, optometry, physical therapy, dermatology, nutritional care, allergy care, and audiology. A complete list of services is in the final planning stages, and we will provide the list and other important health care access information to our beneficiaries by letter. Regardless of services provided, the Ireland Army Community Hospital leadership remains committed to providing the highest quality care our military community has earned, whether that is through our direct care system or through our community network partners.
Q: Will Ireland Army Community Hospital continue to have a dining facility, and will the new clinic have a dining facility?
A: Once the clinic conversion is complete, dining services will no longer be available. Nutrition care directorates and departments, who operate the dining facilities, have a primary mission of providing meals to hospitalized patients. The change in the scope of services will eliminate the need to maintain a food service. We realize that many of our beneficiaries and staff have enjoyed the convenience of having a dining option within the hospital. The hospital leadership is exploring AAFES or MWR food service options.
Q: What will be the hours of operation for the different departments within Ireland Army Community Hospital once the facility becomes a clinic?
A: The Ireland Army Community Hospital leadership is working on the final plan regarding the scope of services and the hours of operations. We plan to provide detailed information to our beneficiaries via beneficiary letters, flyers, and social media once the plans are final.
Q: What should beneficiaries do if needing medical assistance after hours?
A: Ireland will provide extended hours through an acute care clinic open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except holidays. The acute care clinic will provide non-emergency services. Of course, anyone in need of emergency care should contact 911.
Q: What services will be stopped at Ireland Army Community Hospital, and when will each of those stops in services take place?
A. A formal timeline is not available as we are still finalizing our transition plan. However, we do anticipate that all inpatient, emergency department, and surgical services will end by Dec. 15. The discontinued/suspended services include: obstetrics, emergency room, orthopedics, podiatry, general surgery, ophthalmology, pulmonary care, and food service.
Q: Might higher than normal employee attrition occur during this period and – as a result – cause disruptions to services that are still currently scheduled to be provided?
A: We are working to continue providing the highest quality patient care throughout the transition period using both the health care expertise here at Ireland Army Community Hospital and through our TRICARE network partners throughout the community. While are prepared to adjust for any staff losses, we expect there will minimal disruption to the services scheduled to be continued.
Q: Will there be gaps in services provided between the time Ireland Army Community Hospital becomes a clinic and the new clinic is open? If so, what will those be and when will these gaps occur?
A: Upon completion of the new clinic a phased relocation will occur to prevent any gaps in services. Also, our TRICARE network partners throughout central Kentucky are prepared to meet both the current and future needs of our beneficiaries.
Q: If someone on Fort Knox calls 911 in need of urgent and serious medical attention after the conversion, what organization would respond and where would that individual be taken for further assistance?
A: Ireland will retain ambulance service for the near future while long-term solutions to emergency response are developed. The Fort Knox community enjoys robust emergency care support from a number of facilities that operate throughout the Hardin County areas. With the absence of an emergency room, Ireland will provide extended hours through an acute care clinic. Acute care clinics are same-day clinics that can handle a variety of medical problems that need to be treated right away, but are not considered true emergencies. The acute care clinic will help fill a vital gap if a beneficiary becomes ill or injured and the patient can’t wait for an appointment. The acute care clinic will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except holidays.
Q: Where will the new clinic on Fort Knox be built?
A: The new 102,000 square foot Army Health Clinic will be located adjacent to the current hospital.
Q: What services will be offered at the new clinic, and how were these determinations made?
A: MEDCOM, Regional Health Command-Atlantic, and the Ireland Army Community Hospital leadership are currently working through analysis on what services will be provided in the new clinic. Services are being evaluated based on community demand and availability of services in the TRICARE network. We will continue to communicate service changes as we go through this adjustment period.
Q: Will retirees and family members be able to receive services at the new clinic?
A: Yes, retirees and eligible retiree family members will be able to receive primary care at the clinic and specialty care using a TRICARE network provider.
Q: Will this change result in increased costs for beneficiaries (e.g., additional co-pays because more services will be referred to the Tricare network)?
A: Co-pay is determined by the individual’s insurance, and varies with each beneficiary. It is important to remember that our beneficiaries currently receive care at TRICARE network facilities, so they should see no significant difference beyond any routine change of plan, status or eligibility. TRICARE beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinators are available to address questions regarding the TRICARE benefit. A TRICARE beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinator can be reached at (502) 624-0275.
Q: Will beneficiaries still call a central appointment line at Fort Knox to schedule medical appointments on post or on the TRICARE network? How will this process work and will there still be primary care managers?
A: Appointment processes will remain the same. We are augmenting our referral management staff to accommodate an increase in referrals to the TRICARE network.
Q: What will happen to the hospital staff affected by the transition?
A: The Ireland Army Community Hospital leadership is working with Army Medicine to mitigate adverse impacts on our hospital staff by providing options for retirement/PCS/continued Department of the Army service at this location or other locations through a variety of programs including the Army Medical Command Placement Program, the Department of Defense Priority Placement Program, and internal reassignments into positions that can continue to serve in another capacity as a valued member of the Army Medicine or Department of Defense teams.