WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2015) – Following the investigation of a Fort Carson Warrior Transition Unit, or WTU, Soldier who had been mistreated by behavioral health professionals, the Army’s surgeon general said the probe of the case did not show more than one Soldier was mistreated.
“I thought the investigation was very thorough,” said Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, regarding the investigation at the Colorado fort. “I believe it gave the facts and verified there wasn’t a systemic problem, but it did show we had two clinicians who treated one Soldier with a lack of dignity and respect.”
Speaking with the Pentagon press in a roundtable, Feb. 6, Horoho said a doctor and social worker had been disciplined, one under Article 15.6 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. The doctor was removed from his leadership position along with other disciplinary actions. The civilian received disciplinary action at the local level, she said.
Horoho said the incidents between the Soldier and the two health care providers occurred between February and May 2014. She also said there had been complaints by other Soldiers stretching back to 2011, but after review they were determined “not to contain problematic behavior by the providers.”
“Anytime there is a concern in the area of warrior care, patient care, all those are taken seriously and looked into,” Horoho said. “We have patient satisfaction surveys and surveys across our WTUs where that data is looked at, compiled and looked at from the local level leadership all the way up to my level, and so we actually have a very high patient satisfaction within our Warrior Transition Units, as well as the area of behavioral health care.”
Addressing behavioral health care, Horoho said Army Medical Command, or MEDCOM, had initiated a Behavioral Health Service Line, also known as BHSL, to implement a standardized system of care to identify, prevent, treat and track behavioral health issues affecting Soldiers and family members.
The BHSL evaluated existing behavioral health programs over five years and determined which were most efficiently and effectively delivered. The BHSL is now implementing the 11 best clinical practices across MEDCOM to ensure a single, cohesive enterprise-wide approach to behavioral health care, she said.
“We have imbedded behavioral health into our brigade combat teams and seen a 50 percent reduction in reliance upon poly pharmaceuticals and a decrease in inpatient behavioral health admissions while seeing a doubling of outpatient behavioral health care,” Horoho said.
She said the Army had gone from approximately 900,000 outpatient encounters in fiscal year 2007 to more than two million during FY14. She noted that as Soldiers with behavioral health conditions used outpatient care more frequently, fewer acute crises have occurred.
“As one indication, Soldiers required approximately 173,000 inpatient psychiatric bed days in 2012, but 37,000 fewer in 2013 and 24,000 fewer in 2014,” Horoho said.