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The new and improved landscape of Madigan

Madigan Army Medical Center brings new facilities, pioneering services to patients

The JBLM CARES facility, which opened August 2017, is one of several pioneering medical developments that debuted at Madigan Army Medical Center this year. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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Each year, the medical needs of the community and servicemembers on Joint Base Lewis-McChord changes dramatically, reflecting ever-evolving lifestyles and habits both on- and off-duty. It's no wonder, then, that medical facilities like Madigan Army Medical Center must continually expand and adjust to keep up with patients' needs. The Ranger spoke with Madigan commander Col. Michael L. Place to explore some of the center's most noteworthy expansions in 2017.

Intrepid Spirit Facility

One of Madigan's newest additions is its Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Intrepid Spirit facility, which is a welcome addition to an already-standing Intrepid Spirit program at JBLM. The program treats servicemembers who suffer from TBI and psychological health conditions following trauma and deployments. It offers an interdisciplinary approach to healing that has only begun to permeate military medicinal practices in recent years, including nontraditional modalities of care like art and music therapy, yoga, and massage therapy.

Led by program director Army Col. Beverly Scott, the Intrepid Spirit program is one of only eight in the country. The addition of a brick-and-mortar facility will not change the kind of care the program offers, but it will allow Intrepid Spirit staff to better deliver that care to patients.

"The Intrepid Spirit facility will add convenience, and it will add to our patients' experience," Place explained.

The 25,000-square-foot facility features a pain clinic and a central hall where yoga classes will be conducted.

"It's a state-of-the-art facility, meaning it makes getting care more comfortable (for patients)," Place said. "It makes getting care much easier."


Earlier this year, Madigan opened the first and only Center for Autism, Research, Education and Services (CARES) facility in the Department of Defense (DoD). The CARES facility provides military families in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) a community gathering place and resource hub. EFMP families, or families with members who require special medical or education needs, are a growing part of the Armed Forces' community.

Through its use of Armed Forces Community Service (AFCS) Systems Navigators, commonly known as EFMP specialists, CARES provides EFMP families with in-depth reviews of services, continuity of care and temporary assistance for exceptional family members on the autism spectrum until families can find long-term care solutions.

"JBLM CARES is an innovation. It's not being done anywhere else in the (DoD)," Place said. "The community needed a place -- a safe place -- where everybody can come and talk about how to take care of kids with special needs. The feedback has been enormously positive in the community."

With the only developmental pediatrics fellowship program in the DoD, the Madigan medical system (including CARES) is uniquely qualified to provide both quality care to patrons and state-of-the-art training to medical professionals.

Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB)

Madigan's WTB, which serves the western portion of the U.S., is one of only 15 units of its kind remaining in the Army today. The unit offers primary care and case management to ill, injured and wounded servicemembers in transition. With innovative therapy programs designed to meet emotional, intellectual and physical needs of patients, Madigan's WTB has gained a strong reputation during the last year for its community collaborations.

Programs like Operation Shark Dive, an adaptive sports program led by Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, offer unconventional yet therapeutic opportunities to WTB servicemembers. Participating servicemembers learn breathing and calming techniques best utilized in high-stress situations, including diving into the shark tank at the aquarium.

The WTB has also partnered with the Museum of Glass' Hot Shop Heroes program to bring a Mobile Hot Shop to JBLM. The Mobile Hot Shop's glassblowing workshops, complete with glassblowing furnaces, flameworking tools, raw materials and working artist instructors, has provided art therapy to WTB servicemembers since 2013.

"Madigan is one of the few medical facilities that can take care of wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines," Place said. "We have refined our processes and continued to work with the community to find more and more ways to support wounded servicemembers. Programs like Operation Shark Dive and the Hot Shop Heroes program are unique to our Warrior Transition Battalion."

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