- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Army is reducing services at Fort Jackson’s Moncrief Army Community Hospital and turning it into a health clinic, officials said Tuesday.

At present, the 24-bed hospital has about 1,045 military and civilian workers, officials said.

The changes will take place in time for the clinic to open June 15.

Moncrief spokesman Nicholas Spinelli said about 70 civilian physicians, nurses and medical technicians will be affected by the change. They are not being let go involuntarily and will be offered other positions at the clinic or early retirement, the spokesman said.

Spinelli said the main changes involve ending overnight stays for medical-surgical cases and for behavioral health patients.

In a statement, Moncrief commander Col. Traci Crawford said the new clinic will maintain its primary care providers, and will send complex surgical or behavioral health cases that require overnight stays to local hospitals or the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

Fort Gordon is near Augusta, Georgia, about 84 miles from Fort Jackson by car.

Spinelli said the clinic will continue to care for Fort Jackson’s active duty military and their families, the 58,000 soldiers that train there annually, and its community of retirees.

Pharmacy services, optical care, and general health and wellness care will be maintained, Spinelli said. The hospital has not had an emergency room nor offered complex surgeries, he said.

A May 24 town hall meeting has been scheduled for anyone who has questions about the transition.

“I want all our beneficiaries to know that your access to care isn’t changing,” Crawford said in a statement. “Those needing referrals to surgical or specialty services will still receive them from their primary care provider.”

Crawford said the main change involves where surgical procedures will be scheduled.

Spinelli said that, recently, the hospital has had only two operations scheduled on many days, with many weeks tallying fewer than 25 patients.

“We will continue to be geared toward serving our active duty men and women, our basic combat trainees and our community of retirees,” Spinelli said.

Fort Jackson is the Army’s largest training installation.

More than half of all new Army soldiers and more than 60 percent of its female soldiers attend basic combat training there every year. The nearly 100-year-old installation also is home to specialty schools for chaplains, drill sergeants and military financial or human resource officers.


Follow Susanne M. Schafer on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/susannemarieap

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