Monday, April 30, 2007

New Unit Attacks Walter Reed Shortcomings

The Army stood up a new brigade Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to improve soldier outpatient care.

Dubbed the Warrior Transition Brigade, each company will boast a staff of 50, including 18 squad leaders, 12 case managers and headquarters staff.

Squad leaders, case managers and primary care managers will integrate into the patient care plan, and all three will be working within the same brigade.

The unit’s top NCO, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Hartless, said the squad leaders would provide hands-on, eyes-on leadership that was absent when the center came under fire for poor outpatient soldier care.

“That squad leader is your mother. He’s your father. He’s your brother. He’s your best friend. He’s someone you can talk to,” Sergeant Major Hartless said. “He’s someone who fixes your problems.”

Under the new structure, 28 new case managers have been added, totaling 36 for the brigade. Each company will have 12.

In addition, three senior case managers will oversee the staff. All case managers are Army registered nurses, allowing a better understanding of the patient care plan, said Lt. Col. Mike Bell a brigade surgeon.

The additional managers allow for a caseload ratio of one manager to 17 patients; before it was about 1-to- 50, Colonel Bell said.

The unit’s leaders will take control of its first company of wounded warriors beginning today.

The Army will add two more companies when the full complement of 166 soldiers is on the ground in June. The brigade will support about 600 wounded soldiers. For more information, see the NGAUS website.

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