Editor, This letter is in response to a story published earlier this month titled “Army spouse criticizes care at Winn.”
As the new commander of Winn Army Community Hospital, I welcome feedback about the quality of care we provide, not only in our emergency department but throughout our hospital.
Regarding this particular situation, I believe the underlying concern here is expectations. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet the expectations of this family and for that we accept full responsibility.
That being said, I can assure you that with many diagnoses, and especially with pneumonia, symptoms can overlap. The patient cited severe chest and back pain. These symptoms do not specifically point to pneumonia and they are not taken lightly.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can range in severity and often is treated in the outpatient setting. Up to 6 million pneumonia cases are treated each year in the United States, and only one out of five of these patients usually require hospital admission. The remaining four successfully are treated at home with antibiotics.
A chest X-ray generally is required to establish a diagnosis to differentiate pneumonia from other diseases. In some cases, a CT scan may be warranted. A blood clot may be suspected if the classic symptoms of cough and fever do not accompany the chest pain.
The story in the July 13 Coastal Courier reported that the patient received both studies on his initial visit to the Winn emergency department.
During his second visit, a chest X-ray reportedly was performed and antibiotics were prescribed for outpatient treatment along with a follow-up at a Troop Medical Clinic. In cases where a patient meets outpatient treatment criteria, follow-up is instructed because a small percentage of patients can progress to the point where inpatient treatment is beneficial. Patients treated at home are told to return if they feel they are not improving or are having more pain, worsening cough or fever. In this case, although he did not return to Winn, the patient appears to have made the correct decision to seek additional care.
I want to thank the Wilson family for bringing this situation to our attention as it allows us to review our policies and procedures to ensure we are not only meeting the standard of care but also meeting the expectations of everyone in our Army family.
Our medical team — which includes everyone from our physicians and nurses to our hospital volunteers — is absolutely committed to providing world-class health care, and it is my belief that they are extremely successful in doing so. That success is best demonstrated by our patient satisfaction surveys. The Army Provider Level Satisfaction Survey for the rating period in which this patient was seen, and for a prolonged time period before that, shows Winn emergency department physicians scoring almost 90 percent in overall patient satisfaction — well above the national average.
Finally, Winn Army Community Hospital is an open system, and all of our leaders maintain an open-door policy. As we stated in the July 13 Coastal Courier, the Patient Advocate Office is the first option for compliments and concerns as they serve as liaisons between patients and staff. However, in those cases where expectations have not been met by either the treatment team or the patient advocates, please feel free to call me personally at 912-435-6001.
— Col. Ronald Place
Commander, Winn Army Community Hospital