The Department of Defense Tricare Management Activity announced today that it has initiated a new program to better serve expectant mothers who receive care in military treatment facilities (MTFs). The new family-centered care initiative offers expectant mothers and their families standardized services that starts with the first obstetric (OB) visit, through birth, and follow-on pediatric care.
In announcing this initiative at a recent conference, Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and the director of the Tricare Management Activity said, "By creating the family-centered care initiative, the military services combined their considerable expertise to offer patients a world-class standardized OB benefit. This standardized benefit ensures that we provide superior care as a part of the military system's ability to assist family members whose sponsors are deployed." He further noted, "Military services have a unique and proud history of providing the military family a broad support system during servicemember deployments. The healthcare providers in the military health system are honored to play a key role in this service to those family members who remain on the home front and to those deployed."
Family, friends, and social support networks are vital to good health. Often during this special time of pregnancy and childbirth, military members and military families are far from home and these natural support systems. Through family-centered care, military hospitals offer an extended family, knowledgeable about the separation aspects of military life. The family-centered care approach ensures that expectant mothers and families get the best possible coordinated care during this special time in their lives.
Hospital and clinic staff members will concentrate their attention on providing patient-centered care through improved continuity of providers and personalized pain management during and after delivery. Providers are receiving additional training to be more receptive to patients' questions, to help develop individualized birth plans and to ensure patients receive coordinated care throughout their OB experience. In addition, family-centered care welcomes fathers, significant others and children to participate in prenatal visits and at the birth of the child. "Our family-centered care team at Naval Medical Center San Diego offers individualized care with emphasis on continuity and choice of provider," said Lt. Cdr. Chrysten Cunningham, an OB/GYN physician.
This new family-centered care initiative also encourages MTFs to offer improved access to gynecological care, first-trimester appointments, stork parking, assistance with scheduling future appointments, individualized prenatal education, and to the maximum extent possible, private postpartum rooms and lactation support programs. "Our medical family is honored to serve the needs of our beneficiaries and their families," said Cdr. Lynn Leventis, another OB/GYN on the San Diego medical staff.
"The enhanced OB services are founded in the core concept of patient-centered health care. We offer enhanced services because our medical decisions are primarily driven by the health needs of our patients and their families," said Winkenwerder.
Beneficiaries should immediately experience family-centered care improvement efforts in MTFs across the military health system, and the Tricare Web site has a section devoted to the family-centered care initiative at: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/familycare/default.cfm . For more information about OB improvement efforts or to comment on the new family-centered care initiative at a specific facility, beneficiaries are encouraged to contact their MTF OB advisory panel or beneficiary council.