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Day of the Deployed: We’ve Got Your Back

Today, on National Day of the Deployed, the US Family Health Plan Alliance celebrates the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who are currently deployed and all those who have served abroad at some point in their service.

Family readiness is a critical component of the military medical readiness mission. Active-duty military members have earned the right to peace of mind, knowing their families are well taken care of back at home.

As a trusted provider of military healthcare, we are committed to providing our members with the highest quality of care. When active duty military families and retirees enroll with one of the six providers within the US Family Health Plan Alliance, they become part of our family. Our members can say with complete confidence that we always have their backs.

So whether active-duty member families are deployed in the next city, state, country or continent – down the street or thousands of miles away – the last thing they have to be concerned about is whether their loved ones have access to the care they need, when they need it.

We pledge to continue delivering top-rated health care with the highest levels of patient satisfaction to our members across the country. We cannot thank you and your families enough for your service and sacrifices.

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Physical Therapy is an Important Preventive Care and Recovery Option for USFHP Members

October is National Physical Therapy Month. The US Family Health Plan recognizes the importance of physical therapy to the overall health and wellness of our members and their families. Each year, more than half of active-duty soldiers endure injuries or related conditions, leading to more than 1 million medical encounters and roughly 10 million days of limited duty.

After leaving active-duty service, these individuals often endure chronic pain or must have surgery to find relief. Fortunately, US Family Health Plan members have access to a variety of physical therapy coverage options to meet their recovery goals.

After more than 30 years of service to military families and retirees, the US Family Health Plan understands the injuries common to a dynamic military lifestyle.  We are committed to providing quality health care and tailored physical therapy options for pain management to our members to address a range of issues, including physical mobility, speech concerns and cognitive or psychological impairment.

Therapy services – including prescribed physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and cognitive rehabilitation therapy, among others – are available to members through their TRICARE Prime benefit. For more information on whether your health and wellness would benefit from therapy services, speak with your primary care provider.

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Milestone Celebration: US Family Health Plan Member Joe Sciacca Turns 100 Years Old

The St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers US Family Health Plan program in New York recently celebrated the 100th birthday of one of its members—Major (Ret.) Joe Sciacca, a U.S. Army veteran and contemporary renaissance man who enjoyed an eclectic career following his military service.

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Joe Sciacca met his future wife, Mary, in Greensboro, North Carolina while on leave and married her in December 1943.

Sciacca, a Staten Island native, has been a member of the St. Vincent’s US Family Health Plan program for 37 years since enrolling in 1981.  He was born in Manhattan and was drafted into the Army in June 1941, serving until his separation as a first lieutenant in 1946. Sciacca continued to serve another quarter-century in the Army Reserve before retiring as a major.

While in the service, Sciacca was assigned to an artillery unit.  He specialized in spotting enemy fire.  During World War II, he served in various locations across the U.S. and was close to being deployed to the African theater when the war ended.

Mr. Sciacca attended Fordham Law School, and his illustrious post-military career included working for Buitoni Foods for 42 years and being appointed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to serve as Deputy Commissioner of Boxing for the New York Athletic Commission.  In that position, he played an important role in organizing the “Fight of the Century” between Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971 at Madison Square Garden.

Joe Sciacca posing with former World Champion boxer, Emile Griffith.

Joe Sciacca posing with former World Champion boxer, Emile Griffith.

In celebration of Joe’s 100th birthday, the St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers US Family Health Plan program wishes to thank him for his many years of service to our country and for his successful post-military career.

Joe Sciacca is among nearly 150,000 US Family Health Plan members nationwide who enjoy access to quality healthcare with top-rated patient satisfaction through six regional member organizations offering the TRICARE Prime benefit. The US Family Health Plan administered by Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers has provided care to the military community for more than 30 years and serves active-duty family members, as well as retirees and their family members who live in parts of New York, including New York City, New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania and western Connecticut.

To learn more about the US Family Health Plan, explore the rest of our website.

 

The US Family Health Plan thanks writer Gregory Giaconelli, who contributed the “Spotlight” column on Joe Sciacca for the Summer 2017 edition of FAM Magazine.

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MEMBER MINUTES VIDEO: Security in Health Care “I’ve Come to Know and Love”

USFHP Member Minutes Profile

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. William “Bill” Ashley, Retired


William “Bill” Ashley enlisted in the U.S. Air Force two weeks before he graduated from his Houston-area high school in 1965. He went on to serve 20 years in the Air Force until his retirement on August 31, 1985 as a senior master sergeant.

Ashley’s service tenure spanned several jobs – including seven years as an air traffic controller – and included two tours with distinction in Vietnam. Ashley served as a load master, working aboard several different Air Force cargo and transport aircraft.

Ashley’s military service afforded him the opportunity to attend the Community College of the Air Force, Barry University in Miami, and the University of Houston where he earned a master’s degree. He also met his wife while serving and now has two daughters and three grandchildren.

“Since I’ve left the military, I’ve had a multitude of jobs. I’ve been blessed in the sense that health insurance hasn’t had to be an issue, because it was with me and it’s always been with me. The US Family Health Plan has been a vital part of that,” Ashley says.

Nearly 20 years ago, Ashley joined the US Family Health Plan through Houston-based member organization, CHRISTUS Health. Through US Family Health Plan’s patient-centered approach to health care, Ashley enjoys reliable access to care that is tailored to his needs and personal preferences.

“Accessing care has been great,” he says. “Care has always been available for me. If I need an appointment I can pick up the phone or go online to use the online portal. I don’t like to take a lot of medicine, and so whenever I receive care, one of things I ask is for something I can do that doesn’t involve additional medicine. I am given the opportunity to try other things other than getting drugs to prevent [illness].”

The TRICARE Prime benefit Ashley receives through the US Family Health Plan allows him to see a regular doctor that he chose years ago when joining the plan – a valued option after seeing numerous doctors during his time in the military.

“I like the idea of having my doctor, and I got to choose my doctor, and I’ve been with her ever since. I get an annual physical, my doctor remembers things, and she brings those up and makes sure they are taken care of. When my father passed away, she remembered why he died, and she started checking me for the same things, so things like that are important.”

Ashley appreciates the consistency in care he receives through the US Family Health Plan and the awareness he has developed for his own health care needs through the relationship he has with his doctor.

“If the US Family Health Plan disappeared, it would mean I would lose my doctor of 20 years,” Ashley says. “I have security in my health needs, and I know how to take care of them and navigate that. I would love to stay with what I’ve grown accustomed to and love. I have never considered leaving US Family Health Plan. It’s been a part of my life since I left the military, and I don’t see that changing.”

Ashley is also grateful for the support the US Family Health Plan has given to his church ministry, Windsor Village, in connecting with Houston-area veterans and assisting them with health care, education and housing.

“The US Family Health Plan has sponsored several of our programs, and they have come together to answer questions and help veterans that are in need,” he says.  “I really, really do appreciate it, because one of things I’ve found is veterans are hard to bring into the fold, and with help like we were getting from them, it just makes a big difference.  Veterans need to be taken care of.”

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Bill Ashley is among nearly 150,000 US Family Health Plan members nationwide who enjoy access to quality healthcare with top-rated patient satisfaction through six regional member organizations offering the TRICARE Prime benefit.  To learn more about US Family Health Plan, watch the interview above or explore the rest of our website.

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Hurricane Harvey: Important Information for USFHP Members in Louisiana and Texas

The situation related to Hurricane Harvey in our US Family Health Plan Texas and Louisiana service areas continues to evolve, and we remain mindful of the needs of our members.

A brief update of the status of CHRISTUS facilities in Southeast Texas and Louisiana is below:

Southwestern Louisiana Update
The remediation trailer, which arrives with an array of tools and resources to clean up and address damage or leaks, has arrived in Lake Charles.

Southeast Texas Update

  • Our health care ministry in CHRISTUS Southeast Texas continues to work hard to serve the community during this difficult storm. However, due to further deterioration of weather conditions in the area, the following changes were announced today:
  • All patients whose elective procedures and cases for CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth and St. Mary Hospitals, including the St. Elizabeth outpatient pavilion, have been affected will be contacted and rescheduled as appropriate.
    Elective procedures and surgeries are planned to continue at Jasper Memorial Hospital.
  • The CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth outpatient pavilion is planned to reopen on Thurs., Aug. 31 for normal business hours.
  • CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County Emergency Services and supporting services to the Emergency Department will remain open. All other services are planned to reopen on Thurs., Aug. 31 for normal business hours.
  • CHRISTUS Orthopedic Specialty Center/Beaumont Bone & Joint has been restored to full city power, but due to the deterioration in the weather, they have canceled clinic, surgeries and rehab throughout the week. They will assess capabilities as conditions dictate.
  • At a time when several emergency centers throughout the region have closed, all four CHRISTUS facility Emergency departments and life-saving Trauma Services will remain open 24/7 and available for the community.
  • A discharge lounge is being set up at St. Elizabeth Hospital to accommodate patients who may be fully discharged but cannot get to a safe location. Essential staff will be required to be available for Emergency, Trauma and existing patients housed in our facilities, to ensure the safety and care they may need throughout the storm. Essential staff who believe they cannot get back to the facility will be housed in the facility. All non-essential CHRISTUS SETX staff were to be released at 1 p.m. today.

Our facilities and clinics will work feverishly to resume business as usual operations as soon as it is reasonably safe.

All CHRISTUS Health plan operations have been open without disruption from the storm.

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VIDEO: Supporting Military Medical Readiness through Quality Health Care

The US Family Health Plan Alliance knows how important family readiness is as a component of the military’s overall medical readiness. A key part of our mission is to give those serving on active duty overseas peace of mind, knowing their loved ones are being taken care of back home.

Dr. David Howes, president and CEO of Martin’s Point Health Care in Maine, explains how the US Family Health Plan provides the best health care possible to those who make sacrifices by serving or supporting those who serve our country.

“This is a group of people who has earned this benefit, that has served in places where they put their life at risk. Understanding that these people deserve our respect and our appreciation – and taking the time to explain to them what we believe their needs are and how they can work with us to make their health as good as it could be – is the best way to serve them from a cultural perspective.”

As part of the Military Health System, the US Family Health Plan offers the TRICARE Prime benefit to nearly 150,000 military retirees and family members across the country. Dr. Howes talks about how the US Family Health Plan helps manage the important issues facing the Military Health System.

“One thing that we can do,” Howes says, “is offload some of those responsibilities [health care delivered within the Military Health System]. Other things we can do as a USFHP – and some of our plans are doing – is to help with training and development for clinicians and to build more intimate relationships with military treatment facilities so we are working collaboratively rather than competitively.”

Increasing collaboration between uniformed medical professionals and the private sector medical community in support of military medical readiness remains a core tenet of the US Family Health Plan’s commitments to partner with the military’s medical leadership and to provide quality health care for plan members.

“The US Family Health Plan’s approach to working with patients is a huge piece of our mission and privilege to care for these people who have served our country so well,” Howes says.

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Identifying and Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health Needs for Military Families and Retirees

Summertime offers multiple opportunities to reflect added focus on mental health; May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has designated June as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. The Department established an online resource, About Face, which provides support for veterans suffering from PTSD and resources for family members of affected veterans.

Active duty troops and retirees face unique challenges as a result of their service to the country. They may endure “hidden” injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, that are not always immediately apparent.

As recipients of the TRICARE Prime benefit, members of the US Family Health Plan have access to a range of mental health care and support services. Our member organizations assist military families and retirees in identifying and managing their conditions and ensuring they receive proper and sustained care.
Available mental and behavioral health services within the US Family Health Plan and TRICARE Prime include:

  • Assistance helping members find the right providers to meet their behavioral health needs
  • Behavioral health services specifically for children of USFHP members
  • Assistance in making appointments with behavioral health specialists
  • Follow-up calls after inpatient stays

DoSomething.org has extensive information about the stress-related mental health issues following deployment, including PTSD. These issues can impact service members’ and veterans’ well-being and quality of life as well as that of their families:

  • Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are the most common mental health problems faced by returning troops.
  • The most common symptoms of PTSD include: difficulty concentrating, lack of interest/apathy, feelings of detachment, loss of appetite, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, and sleep disturbances.
  • 30% of service members develop mental health conditions within 3 to 4 months of being home.

With greater awareness and understanding afforded to members of the military family, those suffering from “hidden” injuries can have a shorter walk on the road to recovery.

 

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US Family Health Plan Celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Month

May is Military Spouse Appreciation Month, a time to celebrate the contribution and sacrifices made by military spouses, who support our service members. It is our honor and privilege to provide health care to the spouses of active-duty service members, activated members of the National Guard and Reserve, and retirees.

Retired Air National Guard Chief Master Sergeant Chuck Halsted describes the outstanding medical care his wife received from US Family Health Plan member organization, Martin’s Point HealthCare.

“My beautiful wife is very active, and she has a problem with skin cancer. But if you knew my wife, you know you couldn’t stop her doing what she wants to do. The treatment began early last year when we returned to Maine. Martin’s Point Health Care started immediately to direct my wife to the right people in our area – top quality people – where she was diagnosed, surgery was performed and probably the best plastic surgeon in Maine was brought in. Martin’s Point had also taken care of an eye problem the year before: set up all the contacts, made all the arrangements, and Chrissy had some work done to her eye. You had maybe three agencies that Martin’s Point had arranged to take care of my wife. We didn’t have to scrounge around for people, we didn’t have to go through the process of trying to find the best people or the right people. It was all there in front of us.”

The US Family Health Plan thanks all military spouses for their sacrifices and contributions to the military community and our country.

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Population Health – The US Family Health Plan’s Value-Based Approach to Health Care

The US Family Health Plan’s population health-based approach to caring for its nearly 150,000 military family and retiree members across the country is unique among TRICARE Prime providers in the Military Health System.

Dr. David Howes, president and CEO of Martin’s Point HealthCare in Maine, explains how the US Family Health Plan’s value-based approach to health care promotes better health outcomes.

“Population health means that we will understand the health and needs of each and every member of the US Family Health Plan.  And that we will work to help those members to remain healthy and when sick to regain their health quickly,” Howes says.

Preventive health measures, such as weight loss programs and patient risk profiling allow the US Family Health Plan’s member organizations to stay in front of members’ chronic conditions and keep them well.

“Patients come to us, and many times they don’t have a chronic disease yet,” Howes explains. “So by understanding our members and understanding all of their medical circumstances, we can actually often intervene in their diabetes, their high blood fats and their weight, or in other areas of their life where we can help them to reduce the risk of becoming ill and prevent them from getting sick, rather than treating them when they become sick.”

This proactive approach to health care helps military families and retirees if they eventually do develop a chronic illness.  According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of all adults in the U.S. (117 million people) suffered from at least one chronic health condition, while 25 percent had more than one chronic condition.

“It’s awfully likely that most of us will develop chronic illness, and that really requires that we custom-tailor programs to the needs of our members so that they can have the doctors they need, the care support that they need, and the family and personal support that they need,” Howes says. “Those things both improve the quality of their lives, often reduce the progression of their illness, and help them to stay out of the hospital and stay well.”

The US Family Health Plan’s preventive health care initiatives, including disease and complex care management programs and a patient-centered medical home concept that includes in-home patient monitoring, keep members active in lifestyle programs and invested in their health and wellness. This model of care falls closely in line with recent requests by Congress to reform the Military Health System and contributes to keeping US Family Health Plan members satisfied with their health care, out of the hospital and able to experience a high quality of life.

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Celebrating National Nurses Week with US Family Health Plan

National Nurses Week, which began May 6, honors the compassion nurses provide and raises awareness about the important role they play in our health care system.  The US Family Health Plan Alliance appreciates the critical roles nurses play in providing quality health care, promoting patient wellness and improving health outcomes.

As part of our leadership in implementing the patient-centered medical home concept, US Family Health Plan member organizations were among the first TRICARE contractors to offer a 24-hour nurse chat hotline.  The hotline gives our members around-the-clock access to nurses and primary care doctors.  Through the hotline, our members have access to general health information, advice on the use of emergency services, guidance about the appropriate level of care for their medical condition, as well as assistance scheduling appointments.

As National Nurses Week draws to a close, the US Family Health Plan Alliance thanks America’s nurses for their service and tireless dedication to patient care and the health care field.  We could not serve our members without them.