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New era of care: Fort Hood Intrepid Center open for treatment

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Eric J. Shelton | Herald

Christopher Miller, chief nursing officer of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, left, and Dr. Scott Engel, site director, discuss the functions of the center Friday at Fort Hood.

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Soldiers being treated for traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder now have a new home for treatment at the Great Place.

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence Satellite Center at Fort Hood opened its doors to patients for the first time Jan. 11, ushering in a new era of care on post.

The 25,000-square-foot facility includes state-of-the-art technology, a fully functioning gym, a yoga and meditation area, group session rooms, an outdoor patio and a staff of health care and mental health professionals, all to offer a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to treating TBI, PTSD and other conditions.

“Some of the equipment that we have here now is going to allow us to be better able to quantify objectively how service members are doing upon their initiation of treatment, and then what happens while they’re going through treatment,” said the center’s director, Dr. Scot Engel.

Outside the building sits a ring-shaped monument, which is broken at the bottom: a symbol.

“It symbolizes that no matter what the soldier has been through, they may be broken, but they’re still standing, and able to heal. It really symbolizes hope,” said Christopher Miller, chief nursing officer at the Intrepid Center.

Ground broke on the center in June 2014. It is the fifth of its kind on military installations across the country, all part of a joint effort by the government and the private sector. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit organization, donated $11 million to Fort Hood’s Intrepid Center. A similar facility at Fort Bragg, N.C., also opened recently.

“The building in and of itself is something you would see in the private sector, and to see it here in Fort Hood and in the midst of this medical campus, it’s quite phenomenal. I think it is a new way of treatment across the Army,” Engel said.

Treatment at the new center is individualized, based on each soldier’s specific needs, and includes outpatient care, as well as a six-week intensive outpatient program. Treatment covers four distinct areas: medical, pain, behavioral health and rehabilitation.

Before, such services were housed on post in several buildings. Now, the growing staff shares a single structure, making ongoing communication easier and more affective, Engel said.

“Prior, we were over at the portable (buildings), so it wasn’t as easy to collaborate with other team members, but now that we’re operating in the same space, we’re allowed really to meet the further intent of our mission, which is to provide that multidisciplinary care,” he said.

Put patient first

Every detail of the building is designed with the patient in mind, from a daily living skills center, which helps soldiers with TBI relearn some of the basic skills their injuries might have hindered, such as cooking and doing laundry, to a firearms simulator for practicing some of their soldiering skills.

The patients also take time to focus on their physical well-being through daily exercise, similar to what they would experience each day with their units.

Miller said it’s important for the patients to maintain the soldier mentality, including wearing their uniforms to treatment each day.

“They’ve earned the right to wear that uniform so we respect that. It is a military program. We don’t want them to lose that,” Miller said.

In the weeks since its opening, Engel said he’s seen a greater sense of appreciation from patients who come through the doors. “When you come into a building like this, it’s not lost on (the patients). I think it does something for them in terms of how they feel about approaching treatment. They know that they’re going to get that quality care.”

The Intrepid Center is located on post at the corner of Santa Fe Avenue and 58th Street, near the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, which is scheduled to open in April.

An official opening for the facility will be March 9.

Contact JC Jones at jcjones@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7464​

3 images

Eric J. Shelton | Herald

Christopher Miller, chief nursing officer of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, left, and Dr. Scott Engel, site director, discuss the functions of the center Friday at Fort Hood.