JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Beneficiaries are experiencing some delays in services due to the high levels of COVID-19 transmission in the community and the San Antonio Market’s transition to MHS GENESIS on Jan. 22.
As a result of the increased demand, the Consult and Appointment Management Office, or CAMO, and Nurse Advice lines are currently experiencing a high call volume leading to longer than normal wait times.
“We absolutely understand our patients’ frustration and are working diligently to provide them safe, quality, timely care during this busy time,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Timothy Switaj, San Antonio Market assistant director for clinical operations.
“We want to ensure our patients know they have alternate options for seeking care to help avoid delays in service,” he added.
Rather than wait on hold, patients are encouraged to use TRICARE Online at https://www.tricareonline.com to make an appointment or to send a secure message to their primary care team. The healthcare team can answer questions and provide guidance on ways to expedite care, such as prescription renewals, pre-visit tests or virtual visit options.
As a reminder, the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal will replace TRICARE Online after the Jan. 22 records transfer. Patients can access the new Portal using the same DS Logon at https://myaccess.dmdc.osd.mil/. To access the Portal, visit https://patientportal.mhsgenesis.health.mil.
Patients can also explore various virtual health options to include Humana’s Doctor on Demand service at https://ent.doctorondemand.com/humana for urgent care. There are no costs associated with using the virtual telehealth services offered by Humana, however, eligibility and referral requirements vary. Visit HumanaMilitary.com/Telemedicine for more information.
For same-day care, beneficiaries who use TRICARE Prime, or any other TRICARE plan, can visit a TRICARE-authorized network Urgent Care Clinic without a referral (active duty members must have a referral for a UCC). Patients may have a cost-share or co-pay associated with a visit to a partner or network UCC. For more information, visit https://tricare.mil/CoveredServices/IsItCovered/UrgentCare.
San Antonio Market leaders have coordinated with several UCCs within the TRICARE network to ensure support during this challenging time, Switaj noted. Beneficiaries can go to any UCC of their choosing, or visit one of the pre-screened sites, including any MedPost UCC, NextCare UCC or Little Spurs UCC (pediatric only).
Benefits advisors are also available to assist TRICARE Plus and TRICARE for Life beneficiaries needing assistance in locating a Medicare provider or explanation of their benefits by emailing email@example.com or calling 210-916-3586 or 210-916-2793.
The Nurse Advice Line, or NAL, is available for consultation 24/7 by calling 800-874-2273, Option 1. As a reminder, active duty service members CANNOT use the telehealth services or go to a partner or network UCC without a referral. However, they can contact the NAL to assist with obtaining the necessary referrals.
Along with the appointment and Nurse Advice lines, the BAMC Emergency Department and WHASC Family Emergency Center have also seen an increase in volume due to the high rates of COVID-19 transmission.
“We have experienced an influx of patients seeking COVID-19 testing only, which is creating delays for our emergency patients,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Jason Bothwell, chief, Department of Emergency Medicine.
To help mitigate delays, BAMC has temporarily expanded its screening and testing hours of operation to Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking garage and has operated additional pop-up testing sites over the weekend based on daily demand. WHASC screening and testing are also available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the ground floor in the parking garage.
For patients with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19, it’s important to monitor symptoms and proceed to an emergency room when needed, Bothwell said.
“Patients should come to the ED if they are experiencing emergency warning signs for COVID-19 such as trouble breathing, continued chest pain or pressure, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face,” he said. “If you develop any of these symptoms, get medical attention immediately. Be sure to let the emergency room or 911 dispatcher know in advance if you believe you have COVID-19.”
Market leaders will continue to assess the situation and look for innovative ways to improve access to care during this challenging time.
“We absolutely appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we prepare to implement MHS GENESIS and continue to adapt to care in an ever-changing COVID environment,” said BAMC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Clinton Murray. “We will provide frequent updates and welcome your feedback and suggestions and, as always, are grateful for your support and service.”