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News | May 9, 2024

Walter Reed Hosts Inaugural Healthcare Resources Expo to Empower Patients and Engage Providers

By James Black, WRNMMC, Office of Command Communications

Healthcare Resources Expo: Creating Greater Collaboration and Engagement

Healing the nation’s heroes and their families provided the inspirational backdrop for launching Healthcare Resources Expo an inaugural wellness symposium held on May 9 at Walter Reed. The expo featured medical providers from the President’s Hospital and partners from the Defense Health Agency’s National Capital Region (NCR).

From wellness resources to enrollment, Healthcare Resources Expo organizers designed the event to encourage providers to offer a holistic health care approach, providing resources, program information, and guidance intended to extend and enhance the patient experience at Walter Reed, “The Flagship of Military Medicine.”

“This expo successfully played a role in connecting industry partners, fostering relationships, and collaborating on ideas to better serve our patients by connecting them to DHA’s talented providers offering state-of-the-art medical care,” shared Walter Reed’s director, U.S. Navy Capt. (Dr.) Melissa Austin.

Holistic Health Care: Connecting Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Social Wellness

“The Healthcare Resources Expo is an opportunity for staff to expand their knowledge of the programs available at Walter Reed and to empower the providers to better care for their patients, promote staff resiliency, and happiness at work,” explained U.S. Navy Lt. Leanne M. Landry, deputy director for administration at Walter Reed and the principal organizer of the expo.

This year’s expo connected patients with physicians, nurses, social workers and a variety of valuable resources available across the Military Health System (MHS).

Representatives from the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) attended the expo, connecting patients to TRICARE, which is the uniformed services health care program for active-duty service members (ADSMs), active-duty family members (ADFMs), National Guard and Reserve members and their family members, retirees and retiree family members, survivors, and certain former spouses worldwide.

TRICARE brings together the health care resources of the MHS—such as military hospitals and clinics—with a network of civilian health care professionals, institutions, pharmacies, and suppliers to foster, protect, sustain, and restore health for those entrusted to their care.

Moving forward, TRICARE envisions creating more collaborative opportunities with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve the delivery of medical services and shorten the wait for those seeking organ transplants.

Mental Health Awareness

Walter Reed’s Directorate of Behavioral Health was one of nearly 45 exhibitors taking part in Healthcare Resources Expo. Providers shared resources and answered questions on the value of seeking medical assistance, especially when dealing with periods of depression extending beyond two weeks, or seeking assistance in overcoming anxiety, or post-traumatic stress challenges.

“When I think of good mental health, I think of the power in becoming a student of your own mind, body, and soul. Research tells us that the human psyche hasn’t changed much in the last 10,000 years,” shared U.S. Army Col. (Dr.) Aniceto J. Navarro, director of Walter Reed’s Behavioral Health Directorate.

Navarro advises colleagues and patients to take a proactive interest in cultivating good mental health.

“We can exercise healthy boundaries, learn to do the hard work of slowing down and listening to what our bodies are trying to tell us, and make those small changes that over time can lead to a more grounded and purposeful life,” advised Navarro.

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Preventive Care

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), preventive care reduces the risk for diseases, disabilities, and death — yet millions of people in the United States don’t get recommended preventive health care services. During Healthcare Expo, a recuring theme centered on the value of obtaining preventive care, a central tenet of HHS’s Healthy People 2030 public health initiative to reduce obesity, prevent the onset of diabetes, better screen for cancer and other treatable challenges.

“A year ago, I had double knee replacement surgery and I received excellent service,” shared Frances Hill, who has received medical care at Walter Reed for more than 20 years.

Hill and her husband Frederick, a retired U.S. Coast Guard servicemember said the Healthcare Expo is a great way for patients to meet providers and get information on veterans’ organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project.

Learning to Care for Those in Harm’s Way

Medical students and instructors from the University Services University (USU) F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine attended the expo, sharing information with attendees on how holistic health care informs their education and the medical care provided to the nation’s heroes.

Approximately 80 percent of the military physicians reaching 20 or more years of military service are graduates of USU, whose carefully tailored education prepares them to excel in cutting-edge, military-relevant research and combat casualty care.

Spiritual and Social Wellness

Walter Reed’s diverse pastoral care team greeted Healthcare Resources Expo attendees, sharing information on the value of seeking compassionate spiritual and emotional support.

“Chaplains of the Pastoral Care Department are clinically trained and are accustomed to offering pastoral care to persons who hold a wide range of beliefs or perspectives,” explained U.S. Navy Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Hester, who chairs the department and embraces the ethos of being an empathetic care giver to all who seek comfort.

Holistic Health Care: A Game-Changing Approach

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) includes holistic health care as a major component of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Total Force Fitness (TFF) emphasizing service member readiness and resiliency by linking physical, mental, nutritional, spiritual, social and sleep wellness.

One of the most valued partners assisting the U.S. military in pursuing holistic health is the American Red Cross, which also had an exhibition booth at the expo to inform attendees of their services.). The Red Cross strengthens families in coping with the unique demands of military life by offering health and safety courses and a host of wellness programs linking art, music and community service to heal our nation’s heroes on military installations around the globe.

“The American Red Cross is privileged to support our hospital staff in caring for military families,” shared Molly Adams, a station manager for the Red Cross at Walter

Reed. “Our job is to offer a level of comfort above and beyond what a patient might expect as an expression of our gratitude for their family's military service.”

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