10/14/2015 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Somewhere in the fluorescent lit corridors filled with scents foreshadowing the day's lunch menu, is U.S. Army Lt. Col. Heidi Mon, McDonald Army Health Center commander. With her cheeks raised toward her gleaming eyes she visits various sections of the health center to learn from her staff and check-in with patients.
On her daily center tours, Mon approaches her staff members with her right hand clenched tight and drawn back, and springs it forward to meet another's fist.
"We're knocking out flu season," Mon explained while moving her arm in a punching motion. "So we do fist bumps instead of handshakes here."
Although just a gesture, Mon feels replacing the handshake to stop germs in their tracks mirrors the MCAHC's 705 member staff's passion to provide first class collaborative care to ensure the health and wellbeing of U.S. Service members, retirees and family members.
Mon, who took command of the center May 27, aims to make it a desirable place not to only seek healthcare, but enhance the command climate and culture to enable a positive experience for the approximately 40,744 eligible beneficiaries in the region.
"We want to offer world class health care to our beneficiaries while taking care of each other," said Mon. "You can't do one without the other."
For Mon, facilitating an upbeat environment in a place where customers primarily go to feel better is a necessity. She is taking this head on by changing aesthetics, such as artwork and wallpaper and communicating with her team and patients. She is also planning renovations of the Little Creek Fort Story Troop Medical Clinic (East) and renovating the pediatrics and health management facilities, which are currently in trailers.¬
"It's my job to continue to ensure my staff has the tools and resources they need to continue to deliver the great care they already provide to our beneficiaries," said Mon, who feels that one of the greatest tools at her disposal are patient surveys.
"It's been a complete honor and privilege to read what our beneficiaries are writing about the care here," said Mon. "We really take those surveys to heart. I read every single verbatim comment and as a staff we review the satisfaction results."
Mon also highlighted that for people who don't want to speak to the command team, the patient advocated is available to help them convey and sort through concerns.
Along with patients taking advantage of having their inquiries addressed, Mon hopes they also notice the various updates to healthcare technology such as TriCare online scheduling and MiCare secure messaging, which allows patients to communicate with healthcare providers in an online dialogue in lieu of making an appointment for medical inquiries and prescription refills.
"If you know you're not feeling well at midnight and you'd really like to get an appointment, you can hop on TriCare online and make one," said Mon. "[Secure messaging] is just another great avenue to communicate with your provider on your time."
While an advocate for the new online systems, Mon also hopes customers notice the people that work at McDonald are what Mon describes, "first class."
"They come into this building every day with a wide-open heart wanting to do the very best they can, and it's been an extreme pleasure to see my calendar fill up with opportunities to recognize my staff," said Mon. "Walking around, watching [the team] in action and seeing the great care provided by any member from front desk staff to someone drawing blood, filling a prescription or the precision it takes for a surgical team to perform... is so inspiring."