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Program Ensures Reserve Component Medical Readiness

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2008 – The Reserve Health Readiness Program ensures that reserve-component servicemembers have the ability and access to meet their deployment requirements, the program’s director said yesterday.

“The program was designed to supplement the reserve component readiness mission, and to add another resource that they could tap into to have these services done so they could satisfy their deployment requirements,” U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. Diedre Presley, program manager of the RHRP, said during a “Dot Mil Docs” radio program on BlogTalkRadio.com.

The RHRP has a provider network that provides a wide range of medical, dental and behavioral health services, using a nationwide network of about 45,000 private providers of various disciplines. Since the beginning of the year, the RHRP has provided more than 151,000 services.

Presley said the RHRP provides immediate access to a program that service components can tap into to get these services done, especially when troops are being mobilized on a daily basis.

“It is also a tool for the service components to increase their individual medical readiness and to make sure they have a staff that is ready to deploy at any time,” she added.

RHRP services include physical examinations, dental examinations and X-rays, dental treatment, immunizations, vision services, audio services, laboratory services, occupational health services, vaccine storage and distribution and other services required to satisfy the service components’ readiness needs, Presley said.

“These services are delivered through two channels. Services can be provided in clinics, where we will send that servicemember within 50 miles of a designated … work or home location, and they will go into an actual provider in their local area,” she explained. “We can actually send teams out to a particular location to do a [Servicemembers Readiness Program] or a group event where we will send a team out that is customized depending on the services particular units require.”

Presley said sending teams out to units is not a new capability, but what is new is the capacity to plus up the number of team members sent out to a particular unit.

“We’re now able to either plus up that team or minimize that team, depending on how many servicemembers actually need to be serviced during that time,” Presley said. “We can send a team out that services 30 servicemembers, or we can send a team out that services 100-plus servicemembers.”

This ability is available to servicemembers in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Germany.

The large provider network is composed of trained and accountable providers who have been brought up to speed on all of the service component requirements, Presley said.

Once called the Federal Strategic Health Alliance Program, RHRP was created in 2007 to acknowledge the expansion and enhancement of the services and to recognize the program’s movement from the Department of Health and Human Services federal occupational health function to the Defense Department’s office of force health protection and readiness.

The change also provides services such as periodic health assessments, post-deployment health reassessments and individual medical readiness services to the active component, Presley said.

“We were also able to add some flexibility into the RHRP program that reduced the minimums required for scheduling services,” she added.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

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