JBLM team wins Army Medicine 3Q Wolf Pack award

By CARRIE PETERSHAGEN/Puget Sound Military Health System on August 4, 2017

Army Medicine recently announced one of the 3rd quarter winners of the Wolf Pack award as a 14-member team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The team was recognized for its efforts in launching a program to treat some active-duty sleep apnea patients using an obstructive sleep apnea dental device fitted by military dentists. The program is projected to save more than $600,000 annually within the Puget Sound Military Health System.

In a message to the field, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, U.S. Army Surgeon General and Army Medical Command commanding general, said this team of active-duty military and civilians “had an immediate positive impact on Soldier readiness.”

Obstructive sleep apnea dental devices are effective in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring, especially in those who cannot tolerate continuous positive airway pressure therapy. Active-duty patients diagnosed with sleep apnea and undergoing treatment are nondeployable until they demonstrate clinical compliance with a course of treatment.

Colonel John Marley, commander, JBLM Dental Health Activity, said he is honored this group was selected.

“This is extremely important for readiness and keeping our Soldiers deployment ready,” Marley said. “There is an added bonus to be able to save significant amounts of money, as well as saving significant additional amounts in the way ahead.”

The idea for this program came from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kirt Nilsson, former director, Clinical Operations, Puget Sound Military Health System. His doctor referred him to a civilian dentist for a dental device to treat sleep apnea. Curiosity led Nilsson to ask if it was possible to offer obstructive sleep apnea devices within the Puget Sound Military Health System.

Through research, it was discovered the average cost for an obstructive sleep apnea dental device through civilian partners is $5,000, and often involves a lengthy process to authorize, treat and receive results.

Nilsson presented an internal treatment option to the Puget Sound Military Health System Medicine Consortium — comprised of medical specialists from Madigan and Naval Hospital Bremerton, including sleep medicine specialists.

A work group was formed, comprised of members from medical, pulmonology, dental, managed care and Puget Sound Military Health System, to develop a work flow and identify solutions to various barriers.

“Without the cooperation of the JBLM and Bremerton dental teams, this project would not have been successful,” Nilsson said. “This initiative is a perfect example of service lines working together to achieve those objectives.”

A finalized work flow to route patient referrals from pulmonary/medical providers to JBLM and Naval Hospital Bremerton dental clinic providers was implemented in September 2016.

“Their efforts and dedication demonstrate how collaboration between the services and across the Puget Sound Military Health System drive excellence in outcomes that better serve our patient population,” said Navy Capt. Denise Holdridge, chief operating officer, Puget Sound Military Health System.

The Wolf Pack award recognizes an integrated team of military and civilian members whose accomplishments demonstrate excellence and effective teamwork resulting in significant products or services with the potential for broad impact in support of Army Medicine. Members of JBLM team represent the JBLM Dental Health Activity, Madigan Army Medical Center, Naval Hospital Bremerton and Puget Sound Military Health System.

JBLM Wolf Pack Award recipients:

Col. Shan Bagby, former commander, JBLM Dental Health Activity;

Lt. Col. Kevyn Wetzel, officer in charge, Hospital Dental Clinic, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Sherry Bice, Supervisory Health System specialist, JBLM Dental Health Activity;

Danielle Macomber, Health System specialist, Supplemental Care, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Danielle Lamon, former chief of Access Services, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Darrell Griffin, chief, Systems Branch Information Management Division, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Lt. Col. Herbert Kwon, chief, Pulmonary-Critical Care-Sleep Service, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Maj. Brian Oreilly, Sleep Medicine physician, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Lt. Col. Cristin Mount, chief, Department of Medicine, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Dave Smith, administrative officer, Department of Medicine, Madigan Army Medical Center;

Lt. Cmdr. Kirt Nilsson, former director Clinical Operations, Puget Sound Military Health System;

Kathleen Munoz, market integration officer, Puget Sound Military Health System;

Lt. Col. Bing Tanwinters, director Clinical Operations, Puget Sound Military Health System;

Jeanne Hlebichuk, RN, nurse consultant, Puget Sound Military Health System.