This year’s virtual town hall was smaller, but still provided answers to questions from the Fort Hood community.
Col. Matt Elledge, garrison commander, and Col. Patricia Darnauer, commander of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, led directors of programs to answer questions through Facebook and online radio station www.forthoodradio.com on Thursday night.
“It’s another way to reach out to the community,” Elledge said. “We’re trying to get how to serve them better.”
More than 4,000 people participated through Facebook and 25 questions were asked and answered within 72 hours — some live on the radio that night.
At the last town hall, held August 2012, more than 200 questions were asked.
While Nick Johnsen, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said before the town hall he was prepared to answer questions about budget cuts to family programs, none came up.
He said people should prepare themselves for the days free things disappear, but it should not be dramatic.
“Right now, we still provide the same level of service we did in the past,” Johnsen said. Cuts have been in “the back of the house” where the public could not see.
Physical fitness centers are one benefit Johnsen said he doesn’t see Fort Hood ever losing.
“We are currently transforming four to more modern functional fitness centers,” he said. Outdoor fitness sites are in the planning stages.
Darnauer fielded several questions about health care, including concerns about pharmacy and appointment wait times.
“I’d like to know what steps are being taken to improve the timeliness of health care,” asked Jennifer Walsh Cary. “I called to make an appointment for my infant son and couldn’t get in for six weeks. It’s ridiculous and our dependent population deserves better.”
A posting from one of the experts on hand explained the Army secure messaging system to her, which allows patients who sign up for it to correspond directly with their primary care manager.
The post also referenced Darnall’s 24-hour nurse hotline, which Cary said she uses and finds helpful.
“The town hall is giving another avenue where patients can communicate with us,” Darnauer said. Facebook is an easy format many people are already familiar with.
She also revealed Fort Hood residents can expect to see patient-centered medical homes, similar to those off-post, in the future.
Other questions were about post security and regulations, and all questions and answers are still accessible on the III Corps and Fort Hood Facbeook page.
“We’re looking to provide you with the service you all deserve,” Elledge said. “We’re not perfect and we don’t have all the answers. You guys are out there and you can tell us how to better serve you.”
Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.