Europe Regional Medical Command Care Call Center opens with Europe-wide appointment phone number

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HEIDELBERG, Germany — Heidelberg Medical Activity Clinical Education and Training Manager Denise Sakolowski attends the April 26 opening of the ERMC Care Call Center. (Department of Defense photo)

Heidelberg, Germany — Europe Regional Medical Command Chief of Staff Army Col. Karen Kelley, left, and Heidelberg Medical Department Activity Commander Army Col. Paula Underwood officially open the ERMC Care Call Center April 26 in Heidelberg. The call center takes calls 6 a.m.-6 p.m. each workday. (Deparment of Defense photo)

HEIDELBERG, Germany A $700,000 Europe Regional Medical Command (ERMC) Care Call Center officially opened April 26 in Heidelberg to provide centralized telephone appointments for routine medical appointments at Army health facilities throughout Europe.

 ERMC Chief of Staff Army Col. Karen Kelley and Heidelberg Medical Activity Department Commander (HMEDDAC)  Army Col. Paula Underwood cut the ribbon during a brief ceremony attended by call center staff and ERMC and HMEDDAC employees.

 “This is a great access to care improvement,” said Kelley. “By deploying state of the art telephone equipment and software, and expanding hours and staff, we can serve our beneficiaries much better.”

She said the ERMC Care Call Center, coupled with TRICARE Online, gives beneficiaries 24-hour access to medical appointments. TRICARE Online appointments are available at www.tricareonline.com

The call center is managed and staffed by Heidelberg Medical Department Activity employees.

“We are pleased to support this Army medical command and ERMC initiative to improve access to care,” said Underwood. "The goal is to make more routine appointments available and to reduce telephone wait times."

An expanded call center staff now takes routine appointment requests from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, excluding training or federal holidays.  Beneficiaries may call 0800-ERMCARES, or 0800-376-2273.

The call center currently serves the Coleman, Katterbach, Illesheim, Mannheim, and Heidelberg Health Clinics. By October 2010, the ERMC Care Call Center will serve as the primary booking agency for all ERMC medical treatment facilities.

Opening the new ERMC Care Call Center is one of numerous access to care initiatives begun by the Europe Regional Medical Command during the past two years.

“Caring for Wounded Warriors, Access-to-Care improvements and medical facility upgrades have been among our priorities,” said ERMC Commanding Army General Brig. Gen. Keith W. Gallagher. “The Army Medicine commitment of Bringing value and inspiring trust, and  ERMC values of compassion, attitude, responsiveness, ethos and safety have guided us, and they shall continue to be our beacon.”

Among other ERMC access to care initiatives are:

  • A Warrior Transition office for policy and planning, a Warrior Transition Battalion for oversight and four geographically dispersed Warrior Transition Battalion to care for our Wounded Warriors were established. The goal is to help Soldiers heal and return to duty or help them effectively transition with dignity back to civilian life.
  • More than 60 contract behavioral health and 80 mTBI providers have been hired to provide these essential services at each ERMC health facility.
  • Patient and Family Centered Care programs have been established at each of ERMC’s 19 Army medical facilities has established a Patient and Family Centered Care program to involve beneficiaries and entire families in the clinic decision-making process. 
  • mTBI and orthopedic tele-health centers have been established in Bavaria and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to extend our range of care and give patients and providers greater treatment options.
  • Medical facility upgrades include planning and development for a “new” Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, an enhanced health care center at Vicenza and significant clinic improvements at Katterbach, Vilseck and Grafenwoehr.  The long-term recapitalization of Landstuhl is a TRICARE Management Activity and Department Defense initiative in its early stages. Additional funding must be approved by Congress for construction of the proposed $1.2 billion hospital.
  • ERMC has been authorized to hire 20 Host Nation Patient Liaisons to assist beneficiaries on initial outpatient visits to TRICARE Preferred Providers. The liaisons will ease language and cultural concerns of patients referred “downtown” for care.
  • Each ERMC health center or clinic now has an online “Guide to Host Nation Healthcare” to enhance your comfort zone when seeking care from TRICARE Preferred Providers and host nation medical facilities. A print version that will fit perfectly in your car glove compartment will soon be available in each clinic.

Many more initiatives – most of them transparent to beneficiaries – have been instituted, including customer service training for clinic staff members and positive organizational changes aimed at creating more appointments and streamlining care for beneficiaries.

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