Sick Military Kids Deserve Better Access to Medical Care

For years, our Association has fought for better access to urgent care. When military families call the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) to make an appointment for a sick child, too many are told there are no appointments available. Or that they can’t get a referral to an urgent care in the community. And too many are left with the Emergency Room as their only option for treatment of acute medical problems, like ear infections and strep throat – conditions that aren’t emergencies, but must be treated promptly.

NMFA was instrumental in highlighting this issue during the Military Health System (MHS) review. When former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated in his MHS Review action plan memo that “no patient should be told to call back the next day for an appointment,” we agreed and were encouraged to see top Department of Defense (DoD) leadership acknowledge this widespread problem.

You can imagine our surprise when the President’s 2016 Budget was released and the health care proposal included a misuse fee for Emergency Room care. Our Association opposes an Emergency Room misuse fee until DoD improves access to urgent care.

Our Government Relations team has submitted a statement to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees detailing why we’re opposed to it. We have also met with Committee staff to explain why an ER misuse fee is grossly unfair under the current circumstances and how it will deter families from seeking needed medical care when the Emergency Room is their only option.

Our goal is not just the defeat of the ER misuse fee. We want improved access to acute care appointments for all military families using MTFs. We have met with Defense Health Agency officials to discuss how they can improve their access measures to better track this issue. We have also suggested improvements to the appointment system that will direct families to the Nurse Advice Line, where urgent care referrals can be issued.

We need your help! We want to assure Congress and DoD officials that the personal stories and experiences we’ve shared are not isolated incidents. Have you encountered problems making an MTF appointment for a sick family member? Please tell us about it and include the approximate time frame and the installation or MTF (we are most interested in recent situations to show this is a current problem). We will compile your stories and share with Congress and senior DoD leadership. Or, consider signing our petition to oppose an ER misuse fee.

Posted April 20, 2015

Comments

From: A Virginia Family on: April 20, 2016
The TRICARE system is severely broken. I recently called the after-hours nurse hotline because my child was exhibiting the classic rash and other symptoms for scarlet fever, and was told to go to the ER immediately - but that I had to take her to the MTF ER, a 40 minute drive from my house. Despite the fact that there is a world-class pediatric ER less than 15 minutes away from where I live. I was told that they would not authorize anything but an MTF ER visit. This, of course, is utter nonsense, as TRICARE does not require preauthorization for ER visits. But they do apparently lie to beneficiaries.
From: Dana on: December 17, 2015
Forgot to include that we are at Scott afb but we had this issue at Dover afb as well.
From: Dana on: December 17, 2015
Less than a month ago my son closed his brother's finger on the front door. I called mtf but was told there were no appointments and a nurse would not call me back for 72 hours so there was no way to get an urgent care referral (the lady on the phone actually laughed at the idea). I was told to go to the er. They did x-rays but really just bandaged my son and sent us home after hours at the er. Ridiculous. We have been ones to go for ear infections because if not getting called back from nurses, not getting referrals properly placed for urgent care, and no appointments available on base. In November I scheduled appointments for my kids and had 2 of 3 cancelled because the nurse did not deem my concerns severe enough for an appointment. I'm sick of it.
From: Jennifer on: July 27, 2015
I have NO problem with the fee for misuse of the ER. Going to the ER for minor issues (not life and limb) instead of making an appointment or going to an Urgent Care facility is a common practice at several of the bases where we have been assigned. It is not just practiced by some, but widely encouraged in spouses groups. I personally know of several to have done this and have said they will continue to do so. While I'm all for improving our care, allowing such misuse is simply making budget matters worse across the board. I think they should document if the assigned provider directs them to the ER and if so, it should be covered. But quite honestly when we make that call, we nearly always get a referral to a nearby urgent care facility first which I find reasonable.
From: Brianna T. on: July 23, 2015
I hardly ever see my actual PCM but our pediatric clinic is pretty good about making appointments quickly. However, I don't trust their judgment half the time. Our daughter got very sick (Fever over 103 off and on for a week, very lethargic and didn't want to eat much. Also full body rash and she had white spots in her mouth on the last day of whatever illness it was). She'd turned blue and fainted at daycare and we managed to get an appointment within the hour. Our daughter's PCM, at the time, actually told us to our faces "I didn't see her faint, so I can't count it as a symptom." I'd rather go to the ER than go back to the MTF because of things like this, regardless of how quickly they can see my children. The civilian ER somehow seems more competent.
From: Elizabeth on: July 1, 2015
Our family has been battling Tricare for some time now to be able to see a non preferred provider since they are not able to allocate a proper in patient RTC for our family member that was diagnosed with self harm and PTSD. They would rather send her to another state than to keep her near us and pay an out of network provider. I have no idea how any veteran with PTSD is being treated and what fight they have to make to get appropriate health care. It is sad to speak to UR/UM because they would rather her wait possibly relapse because of no continuity of care and commit suicide than to pay a provider not within their network. There is also the issue of finding an open bed at these clinics not in our state. Whereas there are RTCs in our home state that are ready to start her treatment and rehabilitation NOW. Reading all of these comments gives me the feeling that I am not the only one that has issues with finding providers that our insurance will allow us to see when there is no access to timely proper health care.
From: Robrt on: June 14, 2015
I love and hate these true strories. And this has to change!
From: KD on: May 12, 2015
My 3 year old was just diagnosed with Lyme. This is her first time on antibiotics so I'm watching her for allergic reactions. The doctor on base told me to bring her in if there was any trouble, but then corrected himself and said there were no appointments so I'd just have to go to the ER. This is very standard practice. The military takes my husband from me for months at a time, please don't make care of my children more difficult than it needs to be. Military children should receive the best care, not have to worry about paying out of pocket or have to resort to the ER to get take care of.
From: Cat on: May 6, 2015
This baffles me. I have 3 children. I hate going to the ER as it's a 20 minute drive, no parking ever available and the potential to expose my kids to some really nasty illnesses. However, when my child has swollen lymph nodes and limited ability to swallow, and I call the appt line and they don't have anything available for two weeks, what choice do I have? My other favorite is when the pcm isnt available but another doctor is, sweet! But the catch is, I'm not your pcm and can't do this or that so you need to follow up with your pcm. Why? You're a doctor, on the same team (yanno the fun mtf teams) why do I even have a pcm?! I never see him. I think Tricare should just assign you to the team. So you're on team 2, who on team 2 is available, oh here ya go. Orrrrr, they should open up some urgent cares. I would love it. Recently our ER got a fast track, which is nice but still I'd rather been seen by my pcm or my kids by theirs. It's frustrating. I know the ER docs better than my own pcm.
From: Baley on: May 4, 2015
STATIONED OVERSEAS. When my son was about 3 months old, he was having mucus like discharge from his eye. Being a first time mom, I didn't want to just assume that it was a clogged tear duct so I called the nurse advice line. I was told he had pink eye and that he needed to be seen in the next 24 hours. When I called to make an appointment with his doctor, I was told there were no available slots. I continued to push for one because of the "within 24 hours" suggestion and was directed by pediatrics to go to the ER. I hated that we had to use the emergency room for pink eye of all things but wanted my son to feel better so we did. Our situation could definitely be seen as "misusing" the ER but when you are directed there, you have no other choice, especially being in a foreign country.
From: Lori on: May 3, 2015
My story could definitely be about ER visits instead of doctor visits. With 4 kids over the years I have racked up more ER waiting room time than I care to count. What I wanted to point out was the difference in continuity of care throughout all of the different posts we have been stationed. My children are rarely ever sick and they do not have a long list of health problems. Actually there is only one child who has a treatable condition which until we moved to our current duty station was being closely monitored by Army doctors. Amblyopia or Lazy eye is what she has and thankfully it was caught early enough at age 7 that she has retained some sight in her eye due to a clever Army eye doctor that put her into a single contact at age 8. Our last two duty station allowed dependents to go to the Army eye doc and all of her tests and vision therapy was kept in one place. In her official medical record. Here we were kicked to the curb, she has to go off post. Not knowing any eye doctor in the area I had no choice but to open google and go to eye doctors of x city. Great way to find an eye doctor. She had her appointment in December, received her new contact script but that is where the care stops. I feel so bad for her because her headaches from double vision are getting worse now that she is 13 and growing into an adult. There is nothing we can do in an off post world Tricare won't let her go to another eye checkup until next December. If we were at Ft Sill or JBLM this would not be an issue because she would have the ability to be treated in the MTF with a continuity of care that is not available here. This is what I see will happen more and more if Tricare reform happens and we are thrown into the general public for health care needs. New duty station, open phone book and randomly pick a provider from a list. The determining factor will be 2 questions, do you take X insurance and do you have any new patient openings? We were at a duty station once where we could not get kids appointments for ear infections for over 5 days (pointless to even bother making an appointment at that point). We have been to the ER with a child that had a burst ear drum after failing to get a doctor's appointment and a tricare region that refused to give referrals to urgent care. By no means do I believe the system is perfect but messing with it to "save money" when each year there is a surplus of funds is sickening. Removing the ability for children with severe eye problems to not be seen by the eye doc on post due to budget cuts (or insert whatever excuse is given here) is sickening. I am glad I only have 2 of our 4 kids left at home and I feel so bad for those with young kids where there is no choice but to go to the ER. I was actually just at the ER 3 weeks ago with my daughter. There were probably 12 children under the age of 2 in the ER waiting to be seen for what was likely nothing more than coughs & sore throats. While we waited those same small children were allowed by their parents to actually crawl on the ER floor and those who could toddle were running around screaming. Meanwhile we sat and waited. My daughter did have a double ear infection but that's not what we were at the ER for. She woke up with a gritty feeling in her eye and it was weepy so I purchased eye flush. Minutes later, her eye, the skin around her eye looked not just irritated but burnt as if she were allergic to the eye flush. So there we were, waiting for what we thought was either a chemical burn or severe allergic reaction, eye swollen shut at this point, waiting in the ER for all the toddlers who could not get appointments to go through first. It turns out she scratched her cornea. Right now I really dislike the situation we are in. Her headaches from her double vision are getting worse and there is nothing that can be done for her.
From: Li on: May 2, 2015
In 2012 my special needs daughter had an appointment with a child neurologist in Nashcville, but my husband wasn't feeling well had mild symtpoms which were achiness and chills. So I took her to the appointment myself, and called him an hour after I left to check on him. Within an hour he had 106 fever and was hallucinating. I called an ambulance and they took him to the MTF ER, who after 4 hours of wait time and the person who finally saw my husband wasn't even a doctor or a nurse! They said "you have the flu, take ibuprofen, drink fluids, be on quarters for 48 hours and go home". I picked him up from the ER with these instructions and we did what they said. Within 24 hours my husband was in a coma on life support due to having double strep pneumonia with sepsis, and all of his internal organs, except his heart, shut completely down. This was all diagnosed at the civilian hospital. The medical staff there said that most people don't come out of an infection like this. I found out from records that were sent from the MTF that my husband hadn't even been triaged.They didn't do any testing, any evaluation or any triage, not blood pressure, not checking his temp not checking 02 stats, nothing. My husband did recover but now has emphezyma, brain damage from lack of oxygen combined with high fever and reduced kidney and liver function. While my husband was in ICU dying, (he literally died and they had to rescsistate him) I went to the MTF commander to find out what happened with my husband and why he wasn't evaluated better. His response was that they notated in his chart that he had spinal menengitis. I was livid. First of all, how did the come to that conclusion when he wasn't even triaged, when there was no blood work or X-rays or ct scans or any other kind of testing, and second of all, if they suspected he had spinal mengegitis, why did they say "it's the flu" and send him home? This is when I found out the person who evaluated my husband wasn't medical personnel, but someone who had gone through AIT and was put in the ER in some kind of medical capacity. If my husband had been able to get in with a real doctor at his clinic or if the ER had even done their freaking jobs, I feel that he wouldn't have ended up like he is today. If this policy, of charging for ER visits was in place then, we would have been charged for him visiting the ER for "the flu" (which again was an erroneous diagnosis) as well as having all the problems he has now. What I am saying is that not only do MTF's fail at appropriate scheduling but also at appropriate diagnosis giving, and they have in trained medical persons working their clinics and ER's. Get quality doctors and nursing staff, get more appointments open and don't try to charge us for your lack of space and scheduling.
From: Madison White on: May 2, 2015
I have had at least 5 appointments in the past 2 months be canceled. I don't even worry about making an appointment now, I just go immediately into the ER. It's faster. Especially at night.
From: Frustrated in Maryland on: May 1, 2015
While in transit to this duty station, my daughter got an extreme case of swimmers ear. Which, eventually lead to a final ER visit when her ear drum ruptured. I called the Tricare line and asked how to take care of her since we are in transit. While the gentleman helping me was extremely empathetic to our situation, he said he couldn't authorize us going to an urgent care because only our assigned clinic (1500 miles away) were the only one who could do it and told us we instead had to go to the ER, since the clinic was already closed for the day. Had an ear ache and couldn't get any appointment. Was told I could only see my PCP (at that time) and to go to the ER. Went to the ER. I explained the situation to the ER nurse and she called my clinic and my clinic took me. I was wondering how can they tell me they can't see me but the ER doc gets an appointment for me? Couldn't get an appointment for my son who had an earache/infection. Was told to go to the ER. The ER told us they had several car accident victims and had no idea when they could see us. Asked why we didn't take him to his regular clinic. After apologizing profusely, we explained the situation and they called the clinic and come to find out they had an appointment available in 45 mins. I have to tell you, the ER clinic was just as disappointed as we were in our clinic. Since being here, we've ALL (four of us) been told of everything from 45 days waits to nothing on the calendar. They straight up tried to tell us they couldn't get my kids physicals done that are mandated to get them registered for school. My daughter was having severe back pain. They couldn't see her for 3 weeks and I called 4 days in a row at exactly the time the same day appointment line opened up and after waiting as little as 3 minutes, they would tell me they have nothing available. I asked them what to do if between now and three weeks from now, the pain becomes unbearable..... "take her to the ER". That is not to mention after her being seen, the fiasco of a time getting her physical therapy schedule after they assigned her to a clinic 3,000 miles away. I could go on.
From: Tara on: May 1, 2015
We have had ongoing problems with receiving care for my daughter. As a kid, who is so rarely sick, she was spiking a high fever (104) every week, for 5 weeks. Before that, she had an ongoing cough and runny nose, that they told me multiple was really no big deal, and just her age. She has been throwing up, and had a few horrible coughs, and never spiked fevers like that. Over the span of two months, I would call to make an appointment, as soon as her MTF opened and would be on hold for OVER AN HOUR, only to be told there were no appointments (sick ones) and only wellness appointments a week out, but because she was sick, they wouldn't even make those appointments. So I would call the nurse hotline, and sometimes they said she could wait up to three days for an appointment and that would be acceptable (with a 104 fever pushing 105). And if she got worse to take her to the ER. First time, I took her right in. They said UTI, even though she was coughing and comiting with the fever. Two days later, after starting amtibiotics, I called again, no appointments, so I took her to ER, and they proceeded to tell me the tests were negative for UTI, so ran more tests. Chest x Ray, urine, swabs, etc. said it was a mild lung infection. (Which I had been to multiple Appointments, and listened to them tell me how it was normal for her to have months of runny nose and cough, and the lung infection, was from that neglect. Finished antibiotics, two days later fever came back, went in again. Again was told it was just a virus, and if I vaccinated her it probably wouldn't be happening!!! What!!! (By the way, she is only missing one vaccine to autoimmune genetics, so medical reasons). Fever came back, two days later, and I practically I had yell to get any other tests done. 6 fevers in 5 weeks is not normal. And I should not have to go to the ER to be seen. And when you call, and they say you should have called earlier, even though you have been on hold for an hour!!!! That is unacceptable. And even after all that, I still don't feel like they listened. I called back for test results was pretty much hung up on, waited almost two weeks for results from a pertussis test. Shouldn't we know that right away if that was the case?!?!? The doctor then proceeded to tel me a fever a month was normal, although she was averaging more than a fever a week!!! It's terrible. This all happened between January and April of 2015.
From: Kathleen Lasota on: May 1, 2015
I called to get an appointment for my 18 month old who had been coughing for days. It turned very deep and was becoming painful for her. The next available appointment on base was two weeks out. The nurse who can't see my daughter told me it was a home care issue and to wait it out. When she suggested using the humidifier, I lost it. Like I hadn't already tried everything I could! It was getting worse and the nurse said it wasn't a big deal because she didn't have a high enough fever. I raised holy hell and got a referral to urgent care. Turns out she had bronchitis. If the nurse had relented and given me the referral we would have gone to the ER because as a mother watching your baby in pain Versus a nurse reading WebMD, your gut is generally better. The only option too many times is to go the ER or hope that you say the magic words that gets the nurse to take you seriously.
From: Jennifer on: May 1, 2015
It was about 3pm one weekday, when my 4yr son woke up screaming from his nap. He told me that his right ear hurt like someone was hitting it. Once I calmed him down and waited a bit to see if it passed, it was now close to 4pm. So I called the MTF clinic where we are Tricare Prime assigned. They told me that there were no appointments left for the day and to take him to closest ER. There was no way he could wait until the next day to be seen.
From: Sharon on: May 1, 2015
I am very uncomfortable with the treatment at my MTF. As others have commented, there are never appointments available and in most cases when you call to speak with a nurse, the nurse doesn't feel there is a need for the child to be seen and we should just wait it out. Then when you do see them, they talk to you like your an idiot and you don't know what your child has been going through. They definitely don't take you serious. I feel as though my child has endured some very unnecessary suffering at the hands of our MTF. In November 2014 on a Friday, my 4 yr old daughter had dental surgery for fillings and removal of three teeth. The next day (Saturday) she sounded as if she had a sinus infection, she was having trouble breathing through her nose. The dentist called to check on my daughter and stated that it was probably from having the breathing tube in her nose and it should go away. By Monday morning my daughters eyes were swollen, her lips had blisters around them and her nose was full of mucus. I called the clinic, spoke to the nurse and she told me she probably has a little cold or virus being as though she had surgery and that makes the body more vulnerable to infections. They had no appointments on base so I had to take her to the hospital. The nurse told me she would call for a translator and they would meet me on the pediatric floor. My daughter and I sat in the hospital for 40 minutes when I decided to call back to the MTF and the appointment desk gave me the number for a translator. I was concerned because I wasn't sure if the translator was relaying the information correctly to the doctor. The doctor's response wasn't in line with what I was saying. But they did the strep test which was negative and sent her home stating that she may have a virus but it hasn't gotten to the point where they were able to identify it. On Tuesday my daughter's entire face was swollen and every time we touched her, she said it hurt. So I called the MTF. They had no appointments available. So I went on to Tricare online and made an appointment for that afternoon. Despite the fact that I told them a strep test was done, they did another test and treated her for strep. I felt like the doctor was accusing me of giving my child something she was allergic to as he kept asking me that over and over again. So he did some blood work. We were told to come back the following morning. That night my daughter was in so much pain that we couldn't touch her anywhere. The following morning she had developed this greenish rash around her mouth, around her neck, under her arms, in between her legs, and on the back of her knees. The MTF told me that she had to be admitted downtown at the hospital. There they stated that she had a bacterial skin infection that possibly started in her nose. We spent Thanksgiving day and the days that followed in the hospital. I watch my healthy, happy, fun-loving daughter deteriorate right before my eyes and nothing was done until the infection spread throughout her entire body. As she healed, her skin shed daily. It was the most horrific thing she has had to encounter and the most terrifying time in my life.
From: Elizabeth Brotherd on: May 1, 2015
The hospital can not keep up with the demand of how many people need to be seen. Most appointments we wait two to four weeks. Specialty appointments are closer to 8 weeks. Well, waiting that long is not always an option. Everyone's pain/illness coping tolerances are different. It's important that if there is a doctor that can see a patient, that they be seen. Regardless of where that happens.
From: Jen on: May 1, 2015
Being told to go to the ER for acute issues for myself and my children was a regular practice on Andersen AFB, Guam. The ER was 45min away on the Navy base and the awesome nurses & doctors there were so frustrated with the Air Force base for never having appointments. I had many tell me this but they never took it out on their patients. It was incredibly frustrating to not be able to get your 5 month old in for croup or possible ear infections, high fevers and so many other things that CAN'T wait a week. It's not fair to the kids, the parents, the ER staff OR people having a real emergency.
From: Lori on: April 30, 2015
ONE specific instance happened two weeks ago at Tripler. I have been having abdominal pain throughout the week. by Thursday it was unbearable. I called Thursday morning for an appointment and they told me there was nothing available I could try back tomorrow. I called Friday morning and was told there was nothing available that I needed to go to the ER. I went to the ER was prescribed medication and sent home. overnight the pain got worse and I begin throwing up. I went back to the ER on Saturday and they said that my liver functions we're extremely high, and they were concerned about the pain. they gave me pain medication and sent me home with orders to see my primary care first thing in the morning. By the time I got to my primary care on Monday I was admitted into the hospital for 5 days.I would have loved to see my primary care doctor the week before when the pain started. I would have loved to seen any primary care doctor the week before. Heck, I would have loved to see a nurse. They would have given me a fee for seeing the ER.....what choice did I have? Not to see a primary care.
From: Lori on: April 30, 2015
I cannot tell you how many times I have had to use the ER when I would have rather gone to see my pediatrician. You hold out all night long hoping to catch an appointment in the morning. You get up in the morning call the appointment line, only for them to tell you there's nothing available check online. You then check online, only to find out there are no appointments available. Call back an hour later, hoping that something's changed only to be told to go to the ER. I would rather take my child to the pediatrician, but when forced to make the decision between holding out another night with a child running a hundred three fever or vomiting the only decision is to take them to the ER. I understand that there are people that abuse the ER, but with children it's always better to be safe than sorry. when their infants they can't tell you exactly what's wrong. When their toddlers they just know they don't feel well. Do do you risk your child being dehydrated, it being something worse, where do you take them? if there were more appointments available to ER would not be used as often. 10 years as a military spouse and I can tell you that the one thing we need is more doctors appointment available. as an adult I was told last weekend to go to the ER because there were no appointments available until the nect week. With my children there has been times children to wait longer.
From: Tammy on: April 30, 2015
I could leave countless examples throughout the 20+ years my husband has been in the service but recently, March 2015, my son injured his ankle during a soccer game late one evening. We took him home, gave him pain meds, iced, elevated his foot. I called the next morning for a same day appointment to insure his foot was not broken because it was the size of a honeydew melon. There were no appts available.....with anyone. I lft a message for the nurse to call me back, hoping she could give mean urgent appointment that the clerks could not. She called and sent us to the ER because there was nothing available. It turned out to be a second degree sprain and we've been in 6 weeks of physical therapy. The ER DR diagnosed him correctly, but then we had to go back to the clinic and see a DR to refer us to physical therapy. It was a waste of time....big ER fee for something clinic could have taken care of and then we had to go to the clinic to get a referral anyway.
From: Nancy on: April 30, 2015
My child was injured at school on Thur, April 23, 2015. He had a small laceration inside his lip and swelling that we did not think needed medical attention. Overnight, the swelling continued and a puss pocket erupted on the outside of his upper lip. On Friday, the school nurse recommended that I take him in to be seen since the swelling was continuing and there seemed to be infection. When I called Langley AFB clinic at 9:00 am on 4/24/15, there were no appointments available and he could not be seen until 4/30/15. I was told if he needed immediate care, I would need to take him to the ER, which I did upon the advice of the school nurse. He was diagnosed with Impetigo, highly contagious, so I was glad I did not wait a week to take him to the next available appointment.
From: Brittany on: April 30, 2015
Ramstein AFB, Germany. My two year old daughter suffers from seizures. Usually they are pretty safe and non complicated episodes that we can treat on the spot and call the doctor in the morning to try to be seen within that 24 hour window after the seizure, but... there have been MANY times we have had to go to the ER because when I call the doctor my child could not be seen for over 3 weeks. THREE WEEKS!! Absolutely absurd! Especially with a chid that has such a scary health history. They need to either open up more apts. or bring in more doctors. Our clinic has also claimed to have no doctors here to treat her or do testing. Why would the military send a family with known health issues to an overseas base that doesn't have doctors to treat their children with severe health problems? The healthcare here is a joke - complete and utterly ridiculous. Fix it.
From: Heather Garay on: April 30, 2015
My daughter recently visited the Ft. Belvoir ER for back pain. I had just been into the pediatric clinic a few days prior for this and an ear infection. Since my daughters back pain worsened over the night, I wanted to talk to my dr or her nurse on the phone. The appointment line would not let me speak to my dr and could not get a same day appointment for her. They also stated that they would recommend an appointment anyway. My dr knew the situation and I really truly felt that a phone call was all that was needed.... So I was only left with one option - to see the ER. My daughter was put through a series of unnecessary tests such as blood work , and x-rays. The ER doctors did not look at her muscualr structure, they just went for the worse case senario.... We saw the our pediatrician right after the 4 hour ER visit, and she was not happy that we couldn't get in to see or talk to her on the phone. She stated that they are not slotted time for phone calls and that half of visits could be minimized if there could be access to the drs more easily..... A wasted ER visit. We now have access to RelayHealth which helps IF the staff contact you back....
From: Kaelin on: April 30, 2015
We never get a appointment in a timely manner- for example- pink eye would be 3 weeks out. Everytime I call the PCM- we get the advice of go to the ER. I have no choice cause something so simple can get worse and spread through out the family. i tried to get a referral for urgent care but get turned down. We dont want to use the ER but we end up having to as a last option.
From: Jennifer DeVanna on: April 30, 2015
June 2014 - San Antonio military medical Center. Brooke Army medical Center after 72 hours of extreme vomiting and nausea at 26 weeks pregnant. I called the OB office for a same day sick appointment, as you are no longer able to see your PCM once you have a positive pregnancy test and was told there was no same day sick appointments available and that I would have to go to the ER. I did a proceeded to spend all day there for blood work and a RX for zofran and fetal heart rate. All of which could have been done in the office and lab at a same day sick appointment.
From: Dana Cross on: April 30, 2015
On 4/8/2015, I suspected I had a shingles outbreak as I have had one before. I called the appointment line because I was sent home from work, as I work with young children. I attempted to get a next day appointment, however, the next available appointment was in two days. The appointment line informed me that I could wait two days or just go to the emergency room. I chose emergency room because my spouse also has an immune deficiency disease and having shingles can be very dangerous for him.
From: Megan on: April 30, 2015
March 2014 I was having pains from what I was sure was a UTI or kidney infection. I called MTF and was told they couldn't see me for a month. I was 16 weeks pregnant at the time, so I also called the women's health clinic. They told me that since it wasn't pregnancy related, they couldn't help me. I then proceeded to call the nurse advice line, where they told me to go to the emergency room. I went, and it was in fact a UTI. This was at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Alaska.
From: April on: April 30, 2015
Two Christmases ago, while getting ready to give my youngest a bath, I noticed some blood in her diaper. I checked her bottom and saw a large, inflamed red bump that two days prior had looked like a small insect bite. It was bleeding and also leaking pus. I immediately rushed her up to the Acute Care Clinic on post (which was a good 25 minute drive away). I showed up there only 20 minutes before they were getting ready to close, so the doctor glanced at it, started saying things like "blood infection" and because of her high fever she needed to be seen immediately at the ER, the Army ER, which was another 30 minute drive away. So I took off for the hospital, after being told that they were "waiting for me" with a room because this was very serious and it was possible that they needed to rush her into surgery if they decided the bump needed drained. I get to the ER, late on a Friday night and it was full of people. I don't know what they were all there for, but what I quickly found out was that I was at the back of the line, no one was in a rush to see my daughter, and they were seeing people in the order that they arrived. After SIX hours of waiting, I finally gave up and drove home to give her some water before returning to a civilian ER a few hours later. They saw us immediately, diagnosed an abscess and staph infection, cleaned it, gave us antibiotics and we were out of there in under 20 minutes TOTAL. If I had the option of going to a much closer Urgent Care, I would have been able to find out the answer much quicker.
From: Jeanine on: April 30, 2015
I have three small children. Every time I have called to make an appt not only do I sit on hold for 30 minutes but I'm then told my sick child must wait till tomorrow to be seen. It's just not fair to charge us when we can't get same day appts for us or our children and are having to be treated in the ER for this. My sons ear drum burst because we waited to get the appt the following day.
From: Amanda on: April 30, 2015
My son was born severely hearing impaired in his left ear. He wears a hearing aid and his school classroom is equipped with a microphone. Frequent ear infections, however, are a problem we still deal with, and have been dealing with since he was born (he's now six). Due to his impairment, his ear doesn't hurt from the infection until it becomes REALLY bad. Because of this, I have to regularly check his ear for a foul smell or bloody discharge. In the past 3 years this has occurred every other month. I am often told to wait and call back another day or go to the emergency room. We choose the emergency room because ear infections can actually damage what little hearing he has left in his ear.
From: Stephanie on: April 30, 2015
My son is NOT allergic to cows milk. By process of elimination, we found that he only reacted to milk with projectile vomiting, 105.5 fevers.. double ear infections, ect. when he was drinking good old fashion gallon milk. So I talked to someone in regards to this and they said that it wasn't the milk at all. So randomly one day, I met this really nice mom. We got to talking and she suggested that I do what her Dr told them to do with their little one and ONLY give him Organic Milk. Not soy milk, or almond milk.. COWS MILK. So I did this and every symptom went away within a week of the switch. Sometimes when he was in day care they would forget and give him the milk everyone else was drinking and the symptoms would start right back up. So I talk since then I have had to deal with several different base doctors and tell the story all over again. One told me yes he must react to the added growth hormones.Most of the time though, I am told there is no such thing and that there is no such story to make this a true statement. I am now living back in Germany and until I have specifically requested 1 and only 1 dr, I am told the same thing.. it can't be.. no such thing.. you're a first time mom. Now let's talk about getting a note from doctors for school for this milk problem, again minus one particular one, They ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS state that he needs soy milk... they just don't listen. They are so quick to want to just get you back out the door you just walked through. One other experience. We were home on leave in California from Germany. My son spiked his 105.5 fever while we were there. Since this wasn't the first go around, I knew what to do. I piggy backed the Tylenol and Motrin as instructed to do if the fever were to ever get that high again. I gave him a luke warm bath.. didn't break it... gave him an ice bath ... didn't break it... So, at this point it had been almost 5 hours of trying to break this fever so I decided to take him to the closest military er. I walk up to the check in desk and CALMLY and I MEAN CALMLY explained what was going on and the lady at the check in desk told me it was going to be a while and that I could go have a seat.. I now have a very lethargic toddler. So about 20 minutes goes by and the triage nurse calls us back for vitals. She asked me what the problem was, I told her exactly what I told the other lady and she looked right at me and said " ma'am, I really think you are over reacting because babies and toddlers don't get 105.5 fevers.. after all you are a first time mom and probably just don't know what you are doing." So I again said very calmly "ma'am, I may be a first time mom, but please if you don't believe me, please check for yourself!" So she said "okay I will." She took his temp and it now read at 106.5..... as she takes my child from me in a very panic like manner and screaming that they had to do something NOW! The iv tubes went in plus much more. The doctors were rushing tests at this point and doing EVERYTHING they could while they all were apologizing to me for telling me that I didn't know what I was talking about. After another 4 hours of this.. they finally got his temp to start going down. The doctor than looked right at me and said if you wouldn't have brought him when you did, your son could have been sterile for life because of a fever!
From: Shawna on: April 30, 2015
One day I woke up with a burning sensation in my leg and a small bite in the area that was burning. I called to make an appointment but my doctor was gone on a mission so the medical facility was understaffed and overbooked. The answering service gave my information to a nurse practitioner who called me within the hour. After asking some questions about my leg, she assessed that I needed to be seen sooner rather than later, but there were not any appointments available so she recommended that I visit the ER. I took her advice and visited the ER where they treated my leg and sent me home. I had an infection in my leg because of the spider bite and it would have gotten much worse if I had not been seen.
From: kristyna on: April 30, 2015
My daughter who was 2 had been running a fever of 102 and up for about 5 days.I took her to the ucc on base and they said it was just a virus and sent us on our was with more tylenol. They had set up a follow-up appt for the following Tues two days later. She was still running high fevers by this time.We went to the Dr appt and they thought she might have an ear infection so they gave us more ibuprofen and amoxicillin and sent us home telling is she is not better by tomorrow to bring her back as a walk in. The next day she was great until about 4 in the afternoon.Her temperature spiked to 105 even on antibiotics, so I called the doctor the next day and they told up to come in to the ucc for a urine and blood sample, so we did that. We got to the ucc and they said because of how young she was and long this had been going on told us to go to the emergency room, so we did. Turns out my daughter 2 years old had a complicated pneumonia. She had so much fluid in and around her left lung they had to do surgery to remove it.
From: Melinda on: April 30, 2015
I was in sever back pain and the appointment line told me no available appointments for over two weeks. I was advised that if I was in pain and no appointment to go to the ER. This came from the appointment line. I went to the ER they gave me a shot and meds to control my pain. Then instructions were to follow up with my PCM in the next week. Tried to get an appointment as instructed. I was told that now the appointments were out for three weeks from the day I called. I called patients advocate and explained my situation. At this time I could barely walk and could not drive my self. The nurse from the clinic called me and they saw me like the next day. However, it doesn't end there the non military physician assistance gave me more meds referred me to Physical therapy. No MRI to see what was going on. I called on more than one occasion because of pain and issues from the back pain. physical therapy said it would be helpful to have MRI to make sure they are oing the right moments with me. After a few phone calls I was referred for MRI. I was told in March was the easiest and it was around 20th of January. I called the two locations I could go one being San Antonio Military Medical Center and the other was at Lackland AFB. The woman found a late evening appointment at 8pm. It was a recent canceled appointment. After the MRI I was sent to Nuro Surgery and pain management. Pain management took Tricare weeks to refer me to a clinic. All this time I could barley walk and not really drive. I went to nuro Surgery on March 24th and in the first appointment they told me I needed surgery. I believe I went through some extra time of pain due to non appointment and not being able to be seen. I had rushed judgment and months of pain due to the lack of access to care. There is multiple times I could not get appointment for my kids including one time when my daughter's throat was swelled shut from strap throat. We had to take her to urgent care for her to get treated.
From: Krista on: April 30, 2015
Been stationed CONUS and OCONUS. Military healthcare is very poor! We never had access to urgent care at other bases until PCSing to fort Jackson, SC in 2013. Before then, we were advised to use the ER when dr. appointments were not available, which was very often occurring. Aside from the topic of ER and Urgent care, regular health care has been severely delayed. For two years now, me and my family have had to wait a minimum of 4 weeks for a doctor appointment, regardless of the reason, even for infection! It is sad. Back in 2009, I had abdominal pain in my stomach and I was ignored by each DOD doctor for about a year (I went in often), and there was no urgent care at that time. I know they thought I was a hypochondriac because they just handed me pills instead. One day, I had enough of being ignored, and went to an appointment intentionally crying my eyes out about my tummy (this was with the hopes of getting someone to actually give me proper medical care and an ultrasound). It worked! Come to find out, I had a large rare type tumor the size of a baseball that took over my ovary and they scared me with the possibility of cancer due to blood results, had to have a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Medical care is not a game or a job to be lazy about! And to now think they want to penalize the military families for an already horrible healthcare system is disheartening.
From: Julie on: April 30, 2015
I work on Lackland AFB and I was called out of work on a Tuesday because my four month old had a fever of 102*F in daycare. When I picked him up I immediately called the appointment line to get him seen. There were no appointments at Wilford Hall Peids, Wilford Hall UCC, SAMMC Peids, or SAMMC's after hours Peids until Thursday afternoon. instead of taking him to a same day appointment in a clinic I was forced to take him to the ER to get seen his condition didn't warrant it, but I had no other option. The UCC on Lackland is appointment based and it can take up to 12 hours to be seen if you are a walk in. to me that doesn't count as "Urgent" care. The system needs to be fixed so there are more appointments available for those who need them, and a fee for ER use is not the way to solve this issue.
From: Sara on: April 30, 2015
In March of 2015 our ten year old son took a nasty spill off of his bike. He was wearing a helmet and riding in the neighbor's driveway when he caught a pothole with the front tire and flipped over the bike and landed face first in the gravel driveway. He had multiple scrapes and cuts, a sore knee that he couldn't bear full weight on, and a nasty purple bump on his forehead that appeared almost immediately after the fall. He never lost consciousness, so I called Wilford Hall's UCC hoping to get a same day appointment to get him checked out. The fall happened on a Saturday morning and I was advised that the next available appointment time was Tuesday and that the walk in wait time was around 6 hours at that point. I was advised that I should not wait until Tuesday, given the location and severity of the head injury and to proceed to my nearest emergency room for treatment. Our wait at the civilian ER was less than 5 minutes and they determined that a CT scan was not warranted but that we should not let him sleep more than 3 hours at a time for the next 24 hours, waking him to check for sign of a latent head injury. Though the injuries were not serious and he recovered quickly, I was thankful to have the option to seek immediate care rather than being forced to sit in an emergency room with 3 healthy kids for 6+ hours waiting to be seen. His injuries did not warrant an ER visit per the guidelines that Tricare has stated, but given the alternative of a 6+hour wait, it was the best decision for him and for us.
From: Carrie Anne Eveland on: April 30, 2015
Same day appointments for urgent, but not emergency needs have been nearly impossible to get for us while stationed at Offutt AFB, USAG Stuttgart, and at Randolph AFB where we are now. I have been sent to the ER for several ear infections and sinus infections, children's temperatures reaching 104+ degrees, pneumonia, stomach pain (to rule out appendicitis or in one case to confirm it). Going to the ER is NEVER our first choice because it involves waiting forever, often with all my kids along with me. When you're new on base and your husband is deployed or flying there is no one to watch the other kids while you take the sick one to the doctor. Better access to urgent care is the solution to the problem, not penalizing people for using the ER when nothing else is available in a timely manner.
From: Kristin on: April 30, 2015
We have had many occurrences of being sent to the ER for issues that should have been seen and taken care of in the clinic. I had a sinus infection that I needed antibiotics for. Because it was a "training day" with no appointments, they sent me to the ER. Another time I needed an ultrasound for severe pelvic pain. Radiology doesn't make same day or next day appointments. I had to go to the ER to get a same day ultrasound. (I ended up having to switch to Tricare standard to have a doctor actually do anything to determine the cause of SEVERE, debilitating pelvic pain. I had to have my ovary removed it was so bad by the time I was given appropriate care.) The next one my 1 year old kept getting an unexplainable rash. The base doctors kept calling it bed bugs...no one else in the family had the rash and there was no sign of bugs in her bed. One trip to the off-base ER determined it was allergic hives and promptly treated it with Benadryl. Another time my 1 year old had the stomach flu without a wet diaper in over 24 hours. I just needed bloodwork to determine if she needed fluids (which she didn't need thankfully). They sent me to the ER because they had no appointments for the current or following days. I had taken her in on day 2 and was sent home. On day 5 of a 12 month old vomiting and not eating, I was finally given permission to take her to the ER!! We are now all Tricare Standard so that we can get proper care without all the hoops the military requires us to jump through. Military doctors first approach is always wait and see! Usually by the time we "wait and see", it is so bad that ER care is necessary. I pray this law doesn't pass. Many military members can't afford to switch to Tricare standard or to pay an ER fee. Many lower ranks qualify for food stamps they are paid so little. This fee could cost lives!
From: Torie on: April 30, 2015
Appointments were almost non existent when we were at Whitman AFB from 2002 to 2007, we were forced to take our sick children to the ER if needed. When we arrived at Eielson AFB in 2007, it was common practice to go to the Ft. Wainwright ED after hours. It was encouraged by the clinic. At Cannon AFB (2011-2013), appointments were non existent for routine medical care. We were however able to get referrals to outside urgent cares there. During my husband's last deployment, my children and I chose to live away from a MTF. It took 6 months to find a PCM who would accept Tricare, during that time I was forced to take my children to the ER for treatment. When we did finally find a DR to treat us on a regular basis, his office was 30 miles from our home and is nothing more then an indigent low income facility. Military healthcare appointments have always been an issue ( I grew up Army), but over the last 10 years it has gotten markedly worse. Due to the transient nature of our lives, the system should be more accepting of our needs. Tracer has reduced the amount that they will pay Drs that most will not accept the insurance anymore. The MTFs are sorely understaffed and same day appointments are not forth coming. Military parents are being forced to choose ER treatment as a last resort and the MTFs are sending us there, because they have limited options within the community.
From: Erinn on: April 30, 2015
After numerous issues with getting appointments and referrals, the straw that broke the camel's back (and caused us to switch to Standard) was my son's first ear infection. He had a high fever for 5 straight days. He was seen in the clinic on days 1 and 3. Both times, we were told that we just had to wait out the virus, but if he still had a fever after FIVE days, we should bring him back in. Day 5, he has a high fever and is NON-RESPONSIVE. Will not eat or drink anything and can barely stay awake. Is not speaking or responding to anything. I call first thing in the morning and hear that a nurse will call me back within 48 hours (this is Friday). I explain the situation and hear the same thing. At 3:30 pm (they close at 4:30), with NO RETURN CALL, I called my emergency babysitter for my infant and took my child to urgent care, where I INSISTED someone do something. The nurse - one of the RUDEST, least compassionate humans I have ever met, marched out of the back room, yelling that there was "NOTHING THEY COULD DO TO HELP ME!!" They then called in a referral to urgent care. Two hours later, we were seen at urgent care, where a doctor took 2 seconds to diagnose a severe, bilateral ear infection. The clinic we went to is the most bare-boned place imaginable. They are unable to run even the most basic tests (e.g., for UTIs), and send almost everything out to urgent care and E.R.s, anyway. They've lost 2 of 3 pediatricians and a few nurses/nurse practitioners. It's completely unacceptable!
From: Christy on: April 29, 2015
Here's another point of view from the military member's perspective...or actually this goes either way depending on your work. A military member is required, if sick and needs to rest, to go to medical to get an SIQ chit to be away from work unless you have a really good chain of command and they actually take care of their people which, in my cateer, wasn't the norm. So if this is how they are with the member you can imagine how they are with the member's children. And if you can't get a same day appointment saying your child needs to stay home you either have to go to the ER, go back to work and route a leave chit (And I have had to do this ...bring my daughter back to my Command to route a leave chit was routed up my entire chain of command while she sat in my lap lethargic with whooping cough), or go UA. So you do what you have to do because if your child is sick and cannot be at school or at daycare you have no other option. So for them to even consider making us pay to have to use the ER is rediculous and unfair if they can't do something to give us more availability to same day or next day appointments.
From: Kristen on: April 29, 2015
My three year old had a 104 fever when he woke up in the morning. I called at 7 am for an appointment and was told they didn't have any and to go to the ER. Turned out he had strep and that could have been solved very easily in a regular doctor appointment.
From: Lindsay on: April 29, 2015
The end of March 2015, my 7 year old had a fever of 103.5* for 5 days, as I was trying to see if the illness would run its course first. I called the appointment line at 7:00 am. I was told the next available appointment was 3 weeks away. I told her that was unacceptable and she offered to have a nurse call me back. Later that day, my daughter was just not doing well and I hadn't heard from the nurse. I decided to take her to the ER. She had a UTI, but with an unusual presentation. A simple office visit could have solved the problem. The nurse, by the way, did not call back until 3:30 pm the next day.
From: Military Mom on: April 29, 2015
I was told it would take 3 days for a sick appointment. I was told to go to the ER instead. Another time I phoned the nurse advise line and received appalling advise. (Give apple juice to a toddler instead of breastmilk??)
From: Amber on: April 29, 2015
a few months back, my 11 year old had a possible UTI. I called the clinic to make an appointment for that day, or even the next. I was told that there was not a single doctor, hers or not, pediatrician or not, available for an appointment for the next 5 days! And was told to go the the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth so they could do a urine sample and give meds if needed. Sure enough she did have a UTI. Thank goodness we went to the ER or she would have suffered for five days until she could be seen by a PCM. If we were charged for that sort of treatment, that would just be wrong.
From: Anonymous on: April 29, 2015
I cannot even count the number of times I was not able to get a same day, next day or even third day appointment for my children when they are sick. I have had doctors dismiss my kids' symptoms only for me to fight to get them another appointment weeks later and find out they had ear infections, strep, etc. I have had pediatricians on base putting false information in my children's medical charts (husband and I were suspicious and got copies of medical records to verify). My kids have almost never seen the same doctor twice. There is zero continuity of care and completely ridiculous that my newborn babies are seeing a normal provider, and not a pediatrician, for well-baby visits because of a lack of appointments. Something has to give at these MTFs. The families of service members deserve better.
From: Jena on: April 29, 2015
A mis-use fee for seeking healthcare from somewhere else because tricare clinics are so understaffed to actually care for all of their patients in a timely manner? I don't think so! What are you suppose to do when you have sick kids that need to see the doctor and they don't have anything available. Trust me as a mother the last thing I want to do is go to the ER or walk in clinic for something minor only because Tricare has failed. Something clearly needs to be done to improve the failing healthcare system we call Tricare but it's NOT charging the consumer more for your failure.
From: Dannielle on: April 29, 2015
Our family travels frequently. With two small children and living over seas, it is inevitable that one or both children will get sick at some point during travels. On numerous occasions our children have ended up with ear infections due to sudden climate changes and frequent flights. I always call tricare when this happens not wanting to risk a ruptured ear drum mid flight. 99% of the time I've been advised to proceed to the nearest ER for treatment. Of an ear infection that could easily be treated by an urgent care clinic? I always feel bad for essentially wasting the time and resources of the ER staff. However, when tricare refuses an appt or referral to an urgent care, what else are you to do?
From: Eden on: April 29, 2015
I should begin by saying that they've all but shut down our Naval Hospital here in Lemoore. It's almost impossible to get an appointment on a normal weekday. This past weekend, I had been throwing up on and off for 15 hours. I had reached the point where I was throwing up ice chips and could not keep anything down. I needed a doctor. Was I dying? No, even though it sort felt like it...but I was extremely sick. It was Sunday and our our base clinic is closed. I called Tricare to get the prior approval required to go to an urgent care facility. After a million questions, I was told that they couldn't approve that until I had called the nurse advice line...and no they couldn't transfer me. I called the nurses line and was on hold for a long time. After finally speaking with a nurse, answering the same million questions, she informs me that I have to call Tricare back and see which facilities I am allowed to go to. I call Tricare back. After another 15 minutes on hold, and on the verge of passing out, I hang up and get online to find a list of local urgent care clinics that are Tricare providers. I find only two in the neighboring town of Hanford. I call both clinics to find that they had both closed at noon. At this point I have to be seen--I haven't eaten in over 24 hours and haven't kept anything down in 16. So I was forced to go to the local ER. I apologized profusely when I arrived for using emergency care for a stomach bug/dehydration. Thankfully they gave me fluids and meds and I was able to return home several hours later. I would never have had to visit the Emergency Room had better care been available. And to think that should this proposition pass, I could have been fined for seeking care is crazy. Instead of fining military families for doing what they have to do in a time of need, make sure they have an appropriate place to seek care.
From: Stacy on: April 29, 2015
In February 2012, we arrived at the Charleston Naval Health Clinic twenty minutes prior to my daughter's scheduled appointment for upper respiratory infection symptoms. 2.5 hours later, still sitting in the waiting room, we were told she would need chest X-rays but the radiologist was preparing to leave so we would need to go to the ER. I was appalled at the lack of care provided to my daughter. It was a total waste of resources to send us to the ER. We are now in Connecticut, my oldest daughter has been sent to the ER multiple times for treatment of asthma attacks. The clinic won't even consider seeing her if I say she has been on her nebulizer. The hospital asks every time, "Why couldn't she be seen at the Health Clinic on base? She is not in severe distress." I have to explain to them that the health clinic refuses to see her.
From: kelly on: April 29, 2015
OMGOODNESS!!! There are countless times I am not able to get same day appointment for my children. BEYOND, this problem lets discuss the poor care my children receive and myself. The quality and cleanliness of the military hospital is not acceptable. The local ER, and urgent care facilities are cleaner than the military hospital. This is not ACCEPTABLE for anyone to be seen in a dirty facility. The lack of washing hands is another huge issue and concern at the military hospital. ANOTHER issue, is that you can never speak to the same nurse or to a dr in the military hospital. It is a constant battle for quality care for myself and my kids..... MY CHILDREN DESERVE QUALITY CARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( there are tonsssssss of stories to share) MILITARY SPOUSES deserve quality care too!!!!!
From: Virginia on: April 29, 2015
In August of last year I discovered my three children aged 4, 3 & 18 months and myself had been exposed to a positive case of Pertussis a few weeks prior. We had stayed with friends out of town for 5 days and later found out their children had the illness. I immediately called the base clinic and wanted a next day appointment for a test and prophylactic antibiotics. They told me they did not have an appointment for 3 days. We went to the ER within the hour and sure enough, all three if my children and myself were positive for Pertussis. If we had been less conscientious and waited for the clinic appointment, we would have risked exposing countless others to a dangerous but treatable and preventable disease. I wish this was an isolated incident but the clinic also never had appointments fire my children to get their routine vaccinations and are still behind due to this. After the pertussis incident, we switched to an off base, civilian Dr.
From: Kristin Cain on: April 29, 2015
there have been many times I could not get an appointment at our MTF. Like the time my daughter broke her arm, or my son had strep throat, or the time I had strep throat, or the time my son had been vomiting for 12 hours straight…But rest assured they could fit us in 2 weeks from when I called. You want to charge an ER misuse fee? Then get more doctors and facilities that can accommodate our needs.
From: Florence on: April 28, 2015
It is extremely unfortunately and heart breaking that Congress would put military families in this position. They are essentially asking families to triage their own children's health because the military can not seem to manage a health care system that works. Last summer I had a bad run in with poison ivy, when I called for an appointment I was told there were none available. I waited a day and called the next morning, yet again, no appointments. I went to the ER where I had to listen to an Army doctor complain about people like me coming to the ER. I let him know that I was so sorry for wasting his time but there were no appointments and my arms were getting infected. If Congress starts charging service members for a misuse fee to use a service that is there to help them then they are actually putting lives in jeopardy. If service members become to afraid to use the ER then there is a risk of people becoming even more sick, which could lead to even greater costs because what should or could have been treated quickly has now become a major health concern. It does seem that now that the "war" is "over", that the families and service members who sacrificed so much are left to make even more difficult sacrifices as they try to navigate an already broken healthcare system. Perhaps members of Congress should use the military health care system for their needs. They are after public servants, as are we.
From: Sarah on: April 28, 2015
When I moved to Ft Benning in April 2009 at 24 weeks pregnant, I turned in all my paperwork and was told I'd hear from OB within a week. About ten days later I started experiencing severe high blood pressure, but when I called OB, I was told that the earliest they could schedule me was another two weeks out even though they did have me in the system and admitted they should already have called me. They would not even let me stop by for a BP check with a nurse. They told me to go to the ER if I really felt it was really necessary (with the huffy voice and eye roll obvious even over the phone). I went to the ER, waited three hours to be seen, and then was told they "couldn't see me for about 6 more hours, so just walk upstairs to L&D." In L&D, the two doctors on staff literally laughed in my face and told me to go home and relax and stop being a hypochondriac. When I demanded to at least have my BP checked, they finally acquiesced, it was insanely high, I was admitted for hospitalized bed rest with pre-eclampsia and ultimately delivered at 27 weeks. If I had waited the two weeks that OB suggested, or gone home because the ER and L&D didn't want to fit me in, my daughter and I would probably have died. At a follow up PCM visit, the Dr walked into the room on the phone while making dinner plans for the weekend, then waived to me and whispered that I was all set and should leave! It took weeks to get the appointment and then after sitting at the clinic two hours, she wanted me to leave without actually seeing me! From that day on my family has been on Standard. As a contrast, at four different duty stations, I have never not gotten a same day appt, or been able to access same day urgent care on Standard. Personally, I think that at a cost of $85/mo (averaged over a year), military families get a tremendous deal on Standard and should all opt of Prime. If overhaul of the system will raise costs, why not take the cost of running failing clinics, throw it at subsidizing Standard for those who cannot afford it, and push everyone onto Standard where you can get care (QUALITY and TIMELY care mind you) that you need, when you need it, from doctors who want the business and know what they're doing.
From: The Association on: April 27, 2015
Thank you for your response. I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble getting behavioral health treatment at the MacDill clinic. Please note that you can go to a TRICARE network behavioral health provider without a referral for the first 8 appointments. Another option is to contact Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647. They can link you up with non-medical counseling and/or help you find a provider in the TRICARE network. If these options don’t work, please feel free to email us at info@militaryfamily.org and we will do our best to help you find assistance.
From: Erin on: April 27, 2015
My son had fallen off playground equipment a few days ago and cut the back of his head. He was not with me when it happened and when I received the call to go to him, I began the many calls to Tricare. I first called the 1-800 line and spoke to someone who asked me if I wanted to go to Urgent Care or the ER. I told him I wasn't sure what was necessary but that it was important to see a doctor. He advised me to call the Nurse Advice Line, which I then did and sat on hold for at least 30 minutes while I waited for a nurse. Once I had a nurse, she insisted on 'triaging' him over the phone. She asked me questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. She then told me it didn't warrant a doctor's visit, but that I could treat it on my own at home. I argued back that I was not calling for her permission to receive treatment, but that I only wanted Tricare to cover the doctor's visit. She argued that it wasn't bad enough. I told her that she wasn't seeing it, I, as the mother, knew he needed to see a doctor, and that while other adults were waiting for me to arrive at the scene of the accident, a pediatric nurse tended to him and she said she thought he needed stitches. AM I EXPECTED TO DO THAT ON MY OWN????? The nurse still refused to allow me treatment. So I then called the 1-800 number again to try to get a referral that way. The person that answered here the second time told me she couldn't refer me but that the nurse advice line is the only place that could. I was shocked because that was not what the person the first time told me. I asked which answer was the correct one because I keep getting different answers. So I called the nurse advice line AGAIN and was asked if I had called about this incident within the past 24 hours. I said yes and was asked what conditions have changed. I said none but that I was demanding to see a doctor. I was not satisfied with the answer I got from the first nurse. I have a son with a head injury that needs to see a doctor. She finally agree to refer me, my son had to be seen within three hours, but then I had to be transferred to the 'Urgent Care hotline number'. I was on hold for about 45 minutes. The recording while on hold eventually said that if I didn't get answered in the next 5 minutes I could just go to an urgent care that Tricare authorizes. To find that, I had to look online. But I was in the car, so I eventually drove home to access the internet, during which time someone finally picked up. It took the person several minutes to find an Urgent Care that was still open in our area - he said they only list the centers that Tricare coordinates with but don't list the times they are open. So he had to check that separately. Finally, approximately 3 1/2 hours later, I was able to go to an Urgent Care, where my son got 3 stitches in his head. Here are my final points: 1. We pay for this insurance and absolutely should not have our medical care withheld from us because a third party deems it not necessary!. In my case, it has been proven that she was wrong and I was right! 2. The wait time and the process to acquire the necessary authorization is absurd and forcing us to go straight to the emergency room.
From: Rebekah on: April 26, 2015
My family and I moved to Colorado springs over a year ago. We have three young children and were blessed with a fantastic civilian doc back in nc. Making an appointment with our assigned premier army medical in the springs is a nightmare! I had been trying since Dec of 2014 to get my daughter in for a check up because when we went home for a visit she got the flu and needed to have a follow up with her doc. We never got ahold of anyone to make an appt! Come the end of Jan she got really sick once again. At that time we could not get in contact with her doc office for her to be seen so we went to urgent care. (We know the urgent care docs better than their pcm) a few days after the urgent care visit and meds She still was not better. Like always I could not get thru to make an appt so I drove to the office. Once there they tried to tell me they had no appts for a week and she could not be seen. (She turned 1 in Dec and had a 104 temp) After arguing with them they squeezed me in with a doc who was not a pediatrician. Her oxygen levels were extremely low and they could not get it up. That didn't seem to matter to them as they sent her home. (Negligence at it finest) As I went to leave I tried to make a follow up appointment and was told that I could not. How can you not make someone an appointment?!? If tricare wants to make it so difficult for families to receive care from military providers they need to allow families to choose the office they would like to go to. Standard is not always an option as some soldiers may not be able to afford the deductibles. Needless to say we have switched to standard because with three children you need to have access to a doc in case of those illnesses that do not require er visits. Very disappointed that our soldiers sacrifice the most but yet the medical care is ridiculous.
From: Becky on: April 26, 2015
Our experiences with 5 different clinics have now convinced me my family will be on standard forever. There are some months we barely have enough money for groceries because we're paying our Dr bills. In my opinion my children's health was at risk from no available appointments, ridiculous amount of time for specialty referrals, and they never saw the same provider.
From: Anonymous on: April 26, 2015
I have had the pleasure of using the ER on many occasions as my daughter has been sick numerous times. Every time she should have been seen by her PCM she was told "call the Urgent Care Line." This sounds great in theory. However, the Tricare Region we live in doesn't even have the list right from the Urgent Care Facilities. For instance, one time we went to the Urgent Care Facility for an appointment only to be told "we have told the base we DON'T take same day appointments from the base." I called back to the base only to get the same answer as always from them "sorry I can't help you, you will have to call the Urgent Care Line." Another time we took our daughter to the ER only to wait for 4 hours and then to be given Bendryl. Why would I take my daughter to the ER so she could get Benerdryl? I have many , many, many stories about the lack of Health Care provided for Military Children, both personally and from others in the 20 years we have endured the degradtion of care. Congress needs to step up to the plate and provide the care these children deserve. They can't get any care from their PCM's or Urgent Care, and then have no choice but to go to a nearby ER to help out their sick child. Where is the leadership in the Armed Forces sticking up for the children? The issue is they are afraid to say anything as it will make waves causing them not to be promoted. The whole system needs to be changed as the end result is "bad quality patient care" for our families leading to an increased COST in medical care.
From: Catherine on: April 25, 2015
The real shame is that it is no different from the mid 70's when my children got sick, my husband was deployed and I had to use the ER because no appointments were available. The best day of my life as far as medical issues was when I turned 65, went on Medicare and could choose any doctor and go to any specialist on my terms not on some Tricare operator's terms.
From: Nicole on: April 24, 2015
In Jan, my 5 year old daughter had missed the Friday prior to MLK day due to a fever and stomach ache. It seemed to be viral when it started. She seemed to be recovering over the long weekend, but on Monday night (MLK day) she started feeling worse and the fever was back. I tried to schedule an online appointment Monday night for the Thomas Moore Clinic at Ft Hood, but couldn't get online to work and kept receiving error messages. I called the minute the appointment line opened at 7am and was caller 56 in line on hold. I then tried to call the pediatrics line direct, but reached a busy signal. I kept trying pediatrics and was able to get through within 10 minutes. I was told that they didnt' have any appointments for my daughter because 2 providers had called in sick, her PCM and another. I was recommended to call the appointment line to see if they would issue an urgent care referral. I waited awhile on hold for the appointment line and once I was through, the scheduling lady let me know an appointment opened up. I told her that I was aware that 2 providers were out sick and asked for confirmation that this appointment was indeed with a provider that was in. I was assured that the appointment was scheduled and good to go. I drove the 15 minutes to Fort Hood to find out that my daugher was indeed scheduled with a provider who was out sick. The receptionist told me they had no available appointmetts for her and all I could do was call the appointment line. So from the waiting room, I called the appointment line and explained the situation, the rep denied an urgent care referral because she could get my daughter in the next day (Wed) at 11:30. So my daughter started out sick and home from school on a Friday and was out again the following Tues after the long weekend and was being told to wait another day to be seen and stay home from school?! A nurse who was standing at the reception desk when I checked in interrupted me on the phone with the appointment line and told me she could squeeze my daughter in with another clinic in Thomas Moore. Thankfully, my daughter was seen and did have strep throat, but it took another 2 days for anybody to call us to tell us that. Appalling care all around!
From: Linda on: April 24, 2015
I've dealt with all sorts of problems with MTF's. I've been told "no appointments available". I've been sent to the MTF ER for an ear infection (ear drum burst while sitting for 5 hours waiting). But now I'm dealing with something completely out of the ordinary: an MTF that is using their "right of first refusal" authority. I live 45 minutes (on a good day) from the nearest MTF. I have a civilian, off-post PCM. I've seen various specialists for different things and they've always been off-post civilian docs. I was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer amd now the MTF and the general surgeon there want this. Why? I want someone who know how to treat this, not someone looking to fill their resume with the word papillary carcinoma/thyroidectomy. There's no consistency in any of the treatment for family members.
From: Sarah on: April 24, 2015
One of my children was born prematurely and has very serious asthma and constant ear infections. In many occasions I have had to use the ER as I could not secure a same day appointment. This only makes the likelihood of my already ill child contracting something like the flu greater and making his condition much more serious. Children's health care should never be an issue which we have to worry about as our military families already have so many things we must face that need our focus. The fact that these benefits are being cut is irresponsible, it is unethical, and it is dangerous. You already have our servicemembers lives at risk, why must we also sacrifice our children. ERs are cesspools of germs and should only be used in extreme emergencies.
From: Billie on: April 24, 2015
I was seen at an ER 3 times for Gallbladder issues that I could not get under control. My PCM at Hood was a week to 2 weeks out for appts in February of 2015. In the meantime I was forced to go to the ER for pain and severe vomiting. When I was seen I was given referrals to Gastroentonogy off base because the Base never had any openings. The Gastro Dr's all said I needed General surgery and it removed and they could not help me. I had to wait again to see my PCM for the Surgery referral which Ft Hood General Surgery denied to see me. I was so frustrated I drove to Ft Sam Houston, 2 hours away to see a PCM there. I finally got into General Surgery there and they helped me right away. I had my inflammed Gallbladder removed within a week. I wasn't aware until now that I could have a PCM off base so now I do in hopes to avoid that mess again! Just one of the ER visits cost $3000 so I know it is expensive! Had appts and referrals not taken so long I never would had to go there in the first place. I would gladly pay a copay of some sorts to be able to see Civilian Dr's and urgent care's. I had Tricare Prime Remote when my husband was Guard in Oregon and it was the best! I think families should get to choose to go off base to urgent care and Dr's off base should be able to give referrals! It was such a waste of time and resources to go back to your PCM if they weren't the Dr you saw for the issue. My PCM acted confused when I told her she had to write referral for Surgery and the Gastro Dr could not. It seems to me, even the PCM's don't fully understand the system.
From: Theresa on: April 24, 2015
Yes. I would agree that the system is broken. As I read the other comments here and on facebook, I can see how far and wide the difficulties reach. My family lives in Virginia Beach(VB). My children are assigned to the TPC in VB. We have the same issues with getting an appointment within a reasonable time frame. Until recently, the clinic did not offer a nurses advice line. Our worst experience was when my child broke her arm. She was 3 1/2 years old. It was a Monday afternoon and I called the clinic(hours are (7am-7pm) for an appt. None were available and we were told to go to the closest ER. My husband took her. The ER confirmed a broken arm and put her in a temporary sling/cast with instructions to go to Ortho. I called Ortho at Portsmouth Naval and wasn't allowed an appt. without a referral. We couldn't get a referral because there were no appts available at the clinic. After going back and forth many times, I finally got an appt. at the clinic for Tuesday at 6.30pm. I called Ortho, Wednesday morning with a referral in place & received an appt for Thursday morning. Meanwhile I have a 3 yr old at home with a BROKEN ARM!!!!! At Ortho...I was told my child needed surgery to fix her arm. Ortho was great and was able to schedule everything for the next morning, which was Friday. My daughter, age 3 1/2 went from Monday afternoon to Friday morning with a BROKEN ARM. THIS SYSTEM IS BROKEN!!! I learned so much about the SYSTEM that week....
From: Mitzi on: April 23, 2015
Oppose ER changes
From: Melanie on: April 23, 2015
if they are going to charge for the ER they need urgent care. I was told to take my daughter to ER for pink eye umm no send us to urgent care fix the system
From: Cody on: April 23, 2015
Coming from the other side of the coin, yes you and your family are very important to us. However the military system is set up in such a strange way... A "VIP" patient can just bump a scheduled or urgent patient because nobody is going to say no to him/her. Even the physicians can't really say no when an O6 or his friend/family member needs to be seen STAT, and to hell with the other less important people (in their minds). The "VIP" patient always have 20 or so sycophants waiting to be nervous outside waiting rooms, push other people around, etc... It makes me sick. In a regular hospital you can tell people with this attitude to have a seat and wait their turn. Not so in the military. I feel for you guys but it is what it is.
From: Catherine Wyatt on: April 23, 2015
We are stationed at MacDill AFB in Tampa Florida. My daughter 8 year old came home from school with both eyes practically glued shut and swollen with pink eye. I card the MTF and was told there were no appointments and to call the nurse advice line for a referral to urgent care. After 30 minutes being transferred I spoke to a nurse who gave some advice to make her more comfortable. She then told me that she would transfer me to the appointment line again to tell them that I should be seen ASAP. When the appointment line told me again that I couldn't get in until the next day I asked for a referral and they said I would have to hang up and call another number. I finally went to urgent care on my own and my daughter was diagnosed with double pink eye and strep throat.
From: Susan on: April 23, 2015
So here's a crazy question/ suggestion. Is there any way to help ourselves? Admittedly the system is broken. I know a lot of military wives are nurses, since it's a semi easy to follow military members around... Could there be a volunteer clinic staffed by local nurses/doctors? I know this is a ridiculous solution. But having been through similar situations where urgent "minor" issues could have been solved cheaply and easily, it is wasteful and ridiculous to waste time/$ going to the ER for an earache, uti or fever. Could we have an all volunteer walk in clinic? Sign a waiver to relieve volunteers of liability? Maybe even have a barter system, donate a few dollars or medical supplies?
From: Denise on: April 23, 2015
My most recent adventure with my MTF at Hill AFB, UT was last week on 14 April. I called when the appointment line first opened and was on hold for 10 minutes as there were other callers in front of me. I didn't talk with anyone. My call was answered and dropped immediately. I then called back and was told there were no appointments available for my son and was connected to the Nurse Advice Line. One lady took basic information and then he was triaged by the nurse, who recommended he be seen within 72 hours. She told me to call 1-800-TRICARE for the referral. I found out that 1-800-TRICARE is a recording listing regional numbers. So now I call the regional number and am told that the nurse should have put in the referral and I can either call the nurse line back or the MFT for the referral, but that I must "stay on top of it" because there is only a five day window for back dating purposes. The MTF can get my son in two days later, however, I argued that he had already been sick for 7 days and his ear pain was getting worse. The MTF appointment line put me through to the nurse on-call. It is now an hour and half later. The nurse says that she can get my son seen in pediatrics; he was moved to family practice in December, but not with his previous provider. At this point, I don't care who sees him. He needs an appointment. Just get him scheduled. What ever happened to the "Teams" where a patient would have an assigned PCM but could be seen by other "Team" members if the PCM was not available? Had an appointment not been made available I would have ended up in the ER with him. The outcome of his appointment was ear infections. I believe that if I had not become upset and frustrated while on the phone the nurse that he would not have been seen.
From: Jennifer on: April 23, 2015
This is such a sad state of affairs! While the current administration brags about the implementation of "Obama Care" and everyone's right to access medical care only to leave our military families again swept aside and expected to deal with it. The current system is putting our children at risk. When small children get sick they are usually unable to communicate or understand their symptoms, leaving the parent to make guesses as to their severity of their child's illness/symptoms. As parents we should not be made to feel guilty or penalized for seeking medical care for our children. From lack of medical care to lack of stability in a PCM we are left to fight to gain access to the benefits our spouses were promised when they committed their service.
From: Jessica on: April 23, 2015
My 8 year old son broke his finger. We were told he could be seen at the MTF in four days!! When I asked if we could take him to the ER, I was told, "If you think it's life or death." We took him to the ER without a referral and without the blessing of Tricare. His finger was swollen and black and blue. He shouldn't have to wait four days be seen and have it wrapped!
From: melissa on: April 23, 2015
This is why we have been pushed to pay out of pocket and be on Tricare standard. It is very frustrating to have a option of Prime and have helping with medical but not ever being able to get the medical treatment we deserve. It is sad that young marines who barely make enough money to make ends meet has to opt for Standard to make sure their families are provided the medical attention they need and deserve. Thank you for helping in this matter.
From: Heather on: April 23, 2015
I do not believe any child to be more important than another. I agree with a previous poster that we make the same cuts and fees to all government employees that we do to the military families. We are the ones who may actually lose a parent to war- are we really less important when it comes to our health when we offer the greatest sacrifice? We don't ask anyone to make the same sacrifices we do, so please take a walk in our shoes in JUST the health and finance realms!
From: Katie on: April 23, 2015
I hate having to plead my case to a nurse on the phone so she can find us worthy of being able to go to urgent care. I always try to avoid going to the ER and try to use urgent care clinics instaed. Sometimes we wait on the phone for hours trying to get a referral and rush to the clinic before it closes. The nurse advice line needs to go.
From: Jenna on: April 23, 2015
I, too, have experienced frustration from not being able to get an appointment for myself or my children. I've been told multiple times that there are no appointments available, or that I would have to wait days to be seen for an acute illness. Particularly in family practice clinics, there are often times not enough doctors to see the volume of patients. Unfortunately, too many people DO actually misuse the ER, which results in longer waits for everyone else, higher costs, and loss of resources. Educations would help a lot; people need to be educated that a fever is rarely an emergency (even if it's from an ear infection), that routine viruses can be cared for at home, and that simple first aid is often all that is needed for many minor injuries.
From: Andrea on: April 23, 2015
What I believe needs to happen is they need to remove the referral requirement for contracted urgent care clinics.
From: Naomi on: April 23, 2015
I have had MULTIPLE issues getting appointments for my daughter for urgent care needs., from being sent somewhere else, getting a misdiagnosis, & having to go to the ER anyway, to being told flat out that there were no available appointments & not even given the option to get a referral to an off-base pediatrician. The most infuriating instance occurred in mid-December 2013 at David Grant Medical Center, Travis AFB, CA. My daughter suddenly had a raised rash on her chin which progressed to twice the size in one day. When I called the appointment line, I was given a referral to an off-base pediatrician who diagnosed her with herpes simplex despite numerous protests from myself (in no way was this a giant cold sore) & that same Dr. admitting that he didn't think that was what it was either, but he didn't know what else it could be (you've got to be kidding me). He went on to prescribe an adult medication for a 3.5 year old. I immediately called the nurse advice line & proceeded to wait 6 hours for them to get back to me. By this time the rash was blistering and oozing, and the nurse advised we try bacitracin, which we had been applying, but hadn't worked. By that time is was passed duty hours & she ultimately recommended taking our daughter to the ER since there were no appointments available next day either. Finally, at the ER they diagnosed the rash as impetigo, prescribed a stronger antibiotic ointment, and sent us home. It then took three months for the rash to completely recede, potentially because it took almost 2 full days to get a real diagnosis and treatment for a bacterial skin infection. We have also had at least three instances when we had to go to the ER for our daughter's ear infections between 2012 and 2015, because there were no appointments available and we were told to keep calling back (this is at the same medical center). I was also informed by a rather rude nurse after the delivery of my som that he needn't be seen by Peds. That the family medicine clinic was fully equipped to treat infants. What is the point, I ask, in having a Pediatrics department when the infants and children it is designed to see and treat can't even be assigned to the clinic, because it is "too full." This needs to change.
From: Natalie on: April 23, 2015
This is a shame.
From: Jennifer on: April 23, 2015
My 7 year old daughter is prone to UTIS and kidney infections. Last year I had to pick her up from school because of another infection. I called her pcm and was told they were booked for the day, call back the next day or call the nurse holiness for urgent care referral. I called the nurse hot line for three hours straight and it only rang. I never could get an answer. I finally took her to urgent care and got her the antibiotics she needed. Tricare denied the claim because I took her during "normal business hours" and I should have gotten a referral or taken her to the ER. Sorry, but the ER at Ft. Bliss WBAMC has wait times at a minimum of four hours for acute care situations. I ended up paying $172 just for the urgent care visit that tricare denied.
From: Jessica Duncan on: April 23, 2015
How about we start cutting health benefits for congress?
From: Jessica on: April 23, 2015
Oh where do I start? Lol. We are on Travis AFB and my allergies this year are completely insane to the extreme of waking up from difficulty of breathing and having coughing fits every half hour. I've tried calling the appointment line when they first got bad at the beginning of April and they said they didn't have any openings until May and to call back and try for a same day or go to the E.R. We've called everyday for a week to get same day and we get stuck on hold for hours and then transferred to a non verified voicemail and the phone hangs up. My kids can never get appointments when they are needed it's always months behind and if something is wrong and we can't get them in we have no other choice but to go waste resources and our time at the E.R. Also, when scheduling and appointment one month they'll send us to peds and the next to family med, or switch doctors on us every few months telling us the other doctor is not in our group. No one is ever on the same page and if we could afford it we would go standard but we can't. Hopefully something changes soon. A fee for the E.R when you have no other option is ridiculous.
From: Wei on: April 23, 2015
As a military family, we have to deal with many station changes. Each time we change my kids will need some time to adopt to the new environment. During this transition they will get different types of allergies, aggervating their ashma. We as a family have very reactive air waves, getting a same day appointment is already like a chance of lottery. Have everyone struggling with coughs that requires breathing treatments, is not something that can wait. ER is our only way to get our meds and treatment when we can't get our doctors. As a female who is pront to uti, getting seen ASAP is very important in preventing kidney infection. Many times getting a nurse to return my urgent calls for meds and testing can take up to 72 hours if it did get returned. ER is my only choice when I am fevering in pain and is in the brink of a serious infection. Until this issue of getting acute care access taken care of, ER is our only choice. It is not just family member who can't get same day appointments, when my solider was working and came down with a high fever, he was not able to be seen. No option of urgent care outside was given.
From: Carrie on: April 22, 2015
It would be nice to be able to get a referral when you know you need one. When my daughter (5) was sick last, I knew there was something wrong. There were no appointments on base so they transferred me to the Nurse Advice Line. The nurse kept denying me a referral to urgent care because my daughter wasn't having "normal symptoms." Look nurse on the phone, I know you have a job to do but you're not here. You don't know my child. Turns out My daughter had a raging ear infection. If I didn't argue to get her seen, I would've taken my daughter to the ER. Us families aren't abusing the emergency room. The system is causing us to use it when we have no other options.
From: Catlin on: April 22, 2015
Continual kidney stones and I can't even get an appointment until the stone gets stuck in my ureter and backs up my kidney. Not to mention anyone working full time can't go to the doctor on a holiday because the whole place shuts down. It's ridiculous. I had to have my last stent in for 3 weeks because they couldn't get me an appointment to have it removed... That's a tube that runs from your bladder to your kidney for THREE WEEKS! I'm only 26... I can't imagine when I get older and have something more serious going on.
From: Kathy on: April 22, 2015
I am a RN, not military connected except through my son-in-law. I am appalled at the care my grandchildren are getting through the military and the stories I have read. No parent should have to make a choice whether to take their child to the ER or not because of a "fine" when they cannot get the care they are supposed to get either at their provider or urgent care. Sounds like our tax dollars are not being spent wisely.
From: Kerum on: April 22, 2015
We had several issues with Womack at Fort Bragg with lack of acute care appointments after their Acute Care Clinic was shut down. I was never able to get my kids in to see a doctor even when calling the minute the appt line was open. I was told several times that my only option was to wait another day and try to call again or go to the ER (for things like strep and flu). I was denied an Urgent Care referral many times and was told they were not allowed to give them. I called Tricare several times during our 4 years there to try and figure out a way to stay out of the ER since I knew it was a bigger expense for the system. Every person I talked to told me that I had to get a referral from our MTF. After trying a couple of times to use Womack's ER with wait times of more than 9 hours, we started using the ER in a neighboring town that was only 5 minutes longer of a drive to go to. Their wait time, on average, for our family as well as several other friends' families? 15-30 minutes. Many of these times were during deployments. My husband should NOT have to worry about his children getting the medical care they DESERVE while he is in a war zone. We shouldn't have to PAY to use an ER when the MTF can't get their system together in order to serve the families around them. They shut down a perfectly good acute care clinic and it was never the same. At one point, they tried doing something called "Fast Track" in the ER for symptoms that would normally be seen at an Urgent Care Clinic. One of the advice nurses told me that my only option was the ER, but that they had this fabulous Fast Track system that helped keep the wait down in the ER. I waited 4 hours before being told that the Fast Track system had been shut down over a month prior. My son waited another 5 hours that day. We were at Fort Bragg from May 2010 until June 2014. Eventually, they shut down the Peds Clinic as well and we were assigned to another clinic. The appointments for this clinic was a little easier to get, but acute care appts were still hard to come by. If more exact dates are needed, please e-mail me. I am sure I can look them up.
From: Lyana on: April 22, 2015
I hope that changes come and it benefits the military families and that they realize how expensive it is for insurance and there shouldn't be more bills to pay while visiting the ER.
From: Courtney on: April 22, 2015
We are stationed at Fort Hood. My daughter was born prematurely. At the time of her birth we had lived off post far enough to be allowed to use Prime in our area, but relocated to on post for affordability because of the cost of gas, the commute and the cost of a newborn child that was going to have lots of needs. A letter showed up at my house one day not long after saying we could no longer see our regular dr and my child was now assigned to a new doctor on post. I called Tricare to be sure this was correct. After they assured me it was I called the appointment line to schedule out appts for her. All of a sudden, my daughter had a new doctor that knew nothing of her case and had no appointments for her to be seen. She was 4 weeks early and all of 4 pounds with no one to check her. The person on the phone said the best they could do was get her seen in 2 months. I went down to our patient advocate office, to my non surprise, none of them cared nor considered her case urgent enough to be allowed to go elsewhere off post while on Prime, even though she had already had pedi established. The only way to get her the care so she needed was to switch our insurance plan and pay out of pocket for her care. Thankfully, my husband and I are in a position to be able to do that, but many families are not and solely rely on MTFs for their care. I feel for them and the feelings of helplessness they must have when they are told there is nothing that can be done for their children and they have to sit by and wait, and call, and call, then wait some more. When our second child was born with complications, and we are still at Hood and still on post, the first thing I did was switch this child to Standard as well. Trying to get good timely care from MTF is not worth my time or loss of sanity and I will continue to pay out of pocket for the ability to not waste my time. On top of the providers and their lack of appointments, the only thing more pathetic is our on post pharmacies. I cannot count the hours that were wasted sitting a hospital basement. Eventually we got smart and started filling things off post, it costs, but it's worth not spending a day dealing with a broken system.
From: Candace Martin-Richberg on: April 22, 2015
Things need to change
From: Shannon on: April 22, 2015
We are currently stationed at Naval Base Ventura County. When we moved here, my sons were assigned a doctor at base medical. When I tried to make an appointment for their yearly physicals I was told there are rarely appointments available. It took me 3 weeks to get an appointment for them and they were not even seen by their doctor. All 3 have been sick with strep throat, viruses, skin rashes, and even pneumonia. Each time I called medical for an appointment I was told to call and get a referral from Tricare for urgent care, that there were no same day appointments or appointments for the next day. Urgent care and ER trips are the norm for our medical care in this area. The clinic can not handle the patient load so many of us are forced go to these other options. Our kids deserve better. Changes need to be made, but not this proposed change. How about looking at the formula used to staff base clinics and get more doctors and staff on hand. When realigning bases, how about making sure the clinic left standing can still accommodate the service members and their families?
From: Todd on: April 22, 2015
We live in the greater Hampton Roads area & have 02 MTF's within a 10-15 minute drive. We have NEVER been able to obtain a same day appointment. On a few occasions we've gone and sat in an E.R> to be seen because the symptoms warranted immediate access to a physician. On average the wait time for an appointment is a week. The MTF's serve a large amount of folks here in Virginia so I can understand the difficulty getting a same day appointment. However if the E.R. is the only option then patients should not be penalized. We are not talking about families misusing or abusing access to health care. As a matter of fact in the past 10 years I can count on two hands the amount of times my children actually needed to see a doctor same day. My children are active, eat healthy, and overall very healthy. I know there is a perception if we shift more costs to military families we will use the medical less but its just not true. I'm but 1 example of a military family who uses the outstanding benefit we have very judiciously and not for every runny nose. They need to hire more staff, I have noticed between in the last 6 years between here, Washington State, and Alaska staffing is getting smaller and especially during higher use hours.
From: Alexis Guethler on: April 22, 2015
I have rarely been able to get a same day appointment at any military facility. Some locations have adequate non-military urgent care facilities available for referrals and some have only the emergency room. This has been a problem numerous times when using MTFs and is even sometimes an issue with our civilian TRICARE providers as well. Family practice MTFs carry too high of a patient load to be able to accommodate urgent care appointments. Military families would vastly prefer not to be sent to the ER or urgent care and it is not acceptable to punish them when this is their only choice. Not only is it more expensive for the military when this happens, but it interrupts patient care and continuity and does not provide the best care for our families. A much better solution would be to reduce overcrowding at MTF family medicine clinics to allow the providers an opportunity to adequately serve their patients. There would be less trips to the ER and some of those fees could be used to provide better service.
From: Stephen on: April 21, 2015
Please allocate our tax dollars to help veterans and their families. Thank you.
From: Bobbi on: April 21, 2015
Medical in Pax River in March wanted me to wait three days for an appointment when my daughter had a severe ear infection. I ended up taking her to an urgent care but that is not the first time the clinic hasn't had a same day appointment for non-emergencies but needed to be seen.
From: Kelly on: April 21, 2015
My daughter has had 3 febrile seizures so when she had an ear infection and her PCM office was closed, I had no choice but to take her to the ER. We spent 6 hours in the waiting room.
From: Buffy Pendergrass on: April 21, 2015
Active Duty Retired could never get my kids appointments Tricare kept pulling my kids out of care and moving them to doctors out of the region..could never get appointments at sewells point portsmouth langley or any other MTF in this area. It is sad that both Active Duty Healthcare and Dependents Healthcare is delayed to the point of death. WE need to act now and I mean now or some will die too soon.
From: Sandra on: April 21, 2015
I support National Military Family Association
From: Christa on: April 21, 2015
Feb 14th 2014 JBMDL we actually had an appointment at 3:30PM. My daughter had been sick with a high fever for over 5 days. The Dr took one look at her and told us that she needed a full work up and the clinic was about to close at 4:00 so she sent us to the ER. All B/c they didn't want to stay past quitting time. This has been a problem for as long as I can remember. My oldest is almost 17 and we have often called military medical care "a joke!" Almost every time I have called over the last 17 years I have been told that they have no appointments available. This was always between 6:30-7am, I would call as soon as the phone lines would open.
From: Carrie on: April 21, 2015
I agree that an overhaul for access to care for all patients adults and kiddos alike needs to happen. I had a medical situation that required surgical intervention within 24 hours. When I called for a same day appointment at 0630 I was told no appointments available and only option was the emergency room. Was told new tricare policies dont allow you to use an urgent care facility if your within 50 miles of your pcm. Well I waited 6 1/2 hours to be seen in the er. Then had emergent surgery. Probably would have been better driving an hour away to be seen at an urgent care facility 50 miles away. No appointments are available most days so many times ER is your only choice. Now they want want to impose a fee for misue of ER. Typical political b.s. instead or addressing the issue at hand they want to penalize people who are the ones suffering because of our governments lack of resolving issues that need to be fixed!!! I am truly thankful for Tricare however things are truly getting ridiculous.
From: Cathy on: April 21, 2015
Our military members and their families should have the same health benefits as our politicians.
From: J on: April 21, 2015
We have been a military family for a long time now, and we remember back before Tricare, when MTF's had acute care, or urgent care clinics. Not so these days...and count us as a family who has been told to go to the ER if we didn't think our child could wait a week for a strep culture. Misuse? We were told to go to the ER.
From: Jen on: April 21, 2015
I called today 4/21/15 9:00AM Ft Belvoir. I had bronchitis a few weeks ago and I am still feeling ill. I was told that all same day appointments were gone for today. I asked if I could be seen sometime between today and Friday. The earliest they can get me in is MAY 12th. I was told to try again earlier tomorrow morning. Can someone please tell me why I cannot get an appointment sometime between Tuesday and Friday of the same week for bronchitis symptoms? And now I will pay a penalty if I get so desperate that I go to the ER for treatment???
From: Kelly on: April 21, 2015
While stationed at Eglin AFB, FL, from 2000-2005, we were rarely able to get an acute care appointment and most acute care we received was done through the emergency room. Because of this, there was often a problem with accurate records and pediatricians not believing our report of our child's health history. The biggest problem this created for us, was an inaccurate accounting of how many times our daughter had strep throat and issues with her tonsils, thus delaying having the appropriate surgery to remove them. When we PCS'd to Germany, we hand carried records and as I was going through them, I realized many of her ER visits had not been included in her medical records, and there were other patients paperwork misfiled in her record. In Germany, we had good care on base and the doctor believed our account of how many years our daughter had struggled with her tonsils and he referred us to a German ENT, who agreed that her tonsils were permanently damage, were the source of her many infections, and should have been removed much earlier. The inability to get appointments led to far more frequent ER visits than necessary. Then the lack of communication between the ER and the pediatric clinic, contributed to ineffective care for not only our daughter, but our son at times as well. When we PCS'd to SC, I intentionally avoided establishing our primary care manager with the military treatment facility because of our previous experience. We still needed to use an emergency room, if something happened after hours or on a weekend and couldn't wait, but it was reduced from our previous experience with the MTF.
From: Brandi on: April 21, 2015
Last week a car fell on hubs arm. The RN he spoke to when he called the VA told him to wait til the next day to see a doctor because theor er was closed and sje didn't think the VA would pay for him to go to a civ hospital. He dropped a freaking multi ton car on his arm. Really?!
From: Jessica Vanlandingham on: April 21, 2015
While this isn't extremely recent, we had to take our then 10 month old daughter to the ER 3 times in one weekend before she was admitted to the hospital. Each time I called the nurses line I was told to go to the ER, no urgent care facilities were available. By the 3rd day the ER personnel were confused why we kept returning (it was a holiday weekend and we had no access to our pediatrician - Naval Base Kings Bay Georgia). After being finally being admitted to the hospital, moved to another larger hospital and having tests run it was determined her appendix had ruptured and surgery was required. Being new parents but also with limited income we might have been more nervous about the continuous ER visits if we knew there would be additional fees associated with going. She was truly sick and we struggled to receive assistance from the nurses line, the appointment line and even the ER. Additional fees for these visits would have only complicated the situation.
From: Brandi on: April 21, 2015
We've waited two months to have a ct scan scheduled with the VA. Found out the doc put in the wrong consult last week. Appointment still has not been scheduled. Then they knew he had pneumonia in January. We didn't find out until February. I have a running list....
From: Julie on: April 21, 2015
Everyone has issues getting appointments on base, not just kids. AD, spouses, children and veterans. Why focus on just on children rather than requesting changes for the entire system?
From: Kristine on: April 21, 2015
Children deserve better!
From: Shelby on: April 21, 2015
In March my daughter and I both had strep throat. I called at 0700 when the Appointment line opened and there were no appointments. At Joint Base San Antonio the pediatric clinic has after hours appointments. They did have an appointment for 8:40pm. She had a fever, sore throat and could barely swallow. So I took her to a nearby pediatric ER and we were home by noon with antibiotics. The military base ER always has extended wait times. I went there with a kidney stone and was told by staff that it would be 4 hours before anyone could be seen so we could wait or seek care at another facility. So my husband drove me to another ER. Now this ED does treat serious trauma patients which explains why I don't go there often. Trauma patients should have priority. But there has to be a plan to treat the non trauma patients. Having the option to seek care at an Urgent Treatment center would be such an improvement and allow access to faster treatment for my family. Especially my children who are 6 and 4. There is nothing worse than waiting for hours in a crowded waiting room with a sick kid.
From: Lelani on: April 21, 2015
A year ago March, I got a call from my son's teacher telling me they thought he had pink eye. Before I went to pick him up, I called to try for an appointment. They lady on the phone said that the soonest they could get him in was the middle of APRIL! We had to spend 3 hours in the ER on post just to find out it was not pink eye. We have had to get a lot of our care from the ER due to no appointments.
From: June on: April 21, 2015
The problem with an emergency room misuse fee is that every MTF I have ever been to has encouraged us to go to the ER when we couldn't get an appointment. I absolutely do not like having to do that, but what other option do we have when no primary care appointments are available?
From: Amy Barker on: April 21, 2015
We PCS'd to Hawaii and had the worst care there. Our 3 yr old is sick often and many times he would have a 104 fever and they would tell us that their first available appointment was in 5 days. Who waits 5 days to treat a high fever that wasn't being controlled by switching ibuprofen and tylenol? I was stressed every time my children were sick and needed care because I knew that the facility would not help us.
From: Sarah on: April 21, 2015
We are stationed at the MacDill AFB Medical Clinic. We have to use the clinic for all our care despite the fact it is not even a full hospital. This presents a world of issues in acquiring referrals to off post providers. In March 2015 both my children developed what appeared to be pink eye on a Saturday morning. The MacDill clinic is 100% closed on the weekends. The nurse line couldn't referr us to an Urgent Care and told us to go to an ER. Both kids had bacterial pink eye and were quickly prescribed an antibiotic eye drop and discharged. In the same week I developed laryngitis and called to make an appointment to be seen at the MacDill clinic. I was informed when I called that they do not ever under any circumstance make appointments after 2:40 PM. I didn't feel that my sore throat or lack of voice was any emergency and refused to pull my son out of school so I could make it to an appointment at 1 PM to a facility that is 45 min drive away from our home. I had a scheduled doctors appointment the following week so I waited 9 days with te inability to talk or swallow much more than applesauce to be seen. At that appointment I was also informed that despite my saying I believed I was depressed and was desperately seeking help for it, I was deemed not a harm to myself or others and that "you're ok. It will probably pass and you'll feel fine again." I'm still seeking help for the depression with no assistance from the clinic.
From: Homer Maxwell on: April 21, 2015
Fund people not needless war toys!
From: Jamie on: April 21, 2015
We have "had" to use our ER many times because we were unable to get a same day appointment or a referral! I always apologize when I do have to go to the ER and explain to them I tried really hard to avoid the ER (where we can get more sick then what we went there for and it is for life or death emergencies) but I just don't get a choice or an option. It is sad if you think about it.
From: Sabrina on: April 20, 2015
We needed a physical done on our Tricare prime newborn in order to get her a birth certificate. We called the MTF and were told to go to the ER. Lol! We went to a local ped and paid the $90 out of pocket since we had no referral. We filed a claim through tricare and they reimbursed us the full amount. Perhaps others could try this instead of sitting in the ER? We took the chance of not getting our money back but it was worth it imo.
From: Bernadette on: April 20, 2015
Our daughter came home from school on Friday, 19 December 2014 with a high fever. I called the Eisenhower appointment line to see if she could be seen on that day. It was after 3:30 and I knew the chances were slim, but I called anyway because I wanted them to check her for the flu virus. As I suspected, there were no more available same-day appointments, so I asked for a referral to my nearest Urgent Care center. The attendant on the phone informed me that she could not refer me out after 2:00 pm and advised me to take my daughter to the Eisenhower Army Medical Center Emergency Room. I told her that I was driving from Evans, GA and that there was an ER closer to me than Eisenhower and I asked if I could take her there. She told me that if I took my daughter to another ER, Tricare would not pay for the visit. I gave my daughter a dose of children’s Ibuprofen, monitored her temperature and repeated the dosage every 6 hours until the following morning. My daughter’s high fever kept returning as the medication wore off so I decided to take her to Eisenhower Army Medical Center ER the following morning. We arrived at the ER at around 0900 on Saturday, 20 December 2014 to a nearly empty waiting area. I checked my daughter in and a triage nurse gave her a hefty dose of Tylenol for her fever and redirected us to the waiting area. We waited for hours as the waiting room gradually filled up with more sick children. Children who arrived after we did were being called back to a treatment room while we sat waiting our turn to be seen. I finally decided that we would no longer wait so I went back to the window and informed the clerk that we were leaving. I drove to the nearest urgent care center (MedNow in Martinez, GA) and checked in. I inquired about the cost for the visit and paid the $125.00 out of my pocket for my daughter to be treated. I filled out the necessary paperwork and my daughter was seen promptly and diagnosed with strep throat. The nurse called in her prescription to my nearest CVS drug store and we were able to pick it up and drive home within minutes. I participated in the Fort Gordon Facebook Town Hall on Wednesday, 18 March 2014. During the session, a family member inquired about the hospital’s policy on referring patients out to urgent care when no same-day appointments were available. The representative for Eisenhower Army Medical Center stated: “For urgent care referals you need to contact the appointment line or primary care clinic and request and urgent care referral. They will be granted if there are no available appointments at EAMC.” Since I had experienced something contrary to this statement, I chimed in with my daughter’s experience. Several other family members shared similar experiences. The final response from the Eisenhower Army Medical Center representative was: “Bernadette: Please call or come see the patient advocate office. We would like to get more details on that instance because that isn't according to policy. 706-787-4656.” I would have just called the Patient Advocate Office instead of physically going there, except my daughter got sick again the following week, again I thought her symptoms were pointing to the flu virus. I called the appointment line at 0700 on a Tuesday morning for an acute, same-day appointment. I was in the queue for 10 minutes before my call was answered. I gave the necessary information for my daughter and was told at 0710 that there were no more appointments available. I asked to see someone other than my daughter’s PCM. I was told that there were no more appointments in the entire clinic. I then asked for a referral to an urgent care center and was told that she (appointment setter) did not have the authority at her level to refer me out. I asked her again why she could not refer me out because just a week before I had received a response from an Eisenhower Army Medical Center representative, who said something contrary to what I was being told on the phone. The appointment clerk informed me (as if I had won a consolation prize) that she could guarantee an appointment on Friday or Saturday! I exercised great restraint when I calmly informed her that my child was sick TODAY and needed to be seen TODAY. She then told me that she would print my information and place it in the nurse’s inbox and the nurse would call me with further instructions. I received a call from the nurse at 0800 offering me an appointment for my daughter at 0900. I told her that we needed more than an hour’s notice because my daughter was in bed, I needed to get her dressed, drive from Evans and check in 15 minutes prior to the appointment; we would not make it in time. I asked the nurse to call me back with a later appointment or give me a referral to urgent care. She assured me that she would call me back. I decided that I should go in to see the Patient Advocate when I had not received a call from the nurse by 1000. I called the Patient Advocate’s Office to let them know that I was en route. I arrived at the Patient Advocate Office and began explaining my complaint and I was immediately placed on the phone with the supervisor of the appointment line (Mrs. Knight). I explained to her what I had experienced and she began checking appointments to see if she could find an appointment for me. When she was unsuccessful in finding an appointment for me, she informed me that she was referring me out to urgent care. She assured me that the hospital’s policy is to refer patients out to urgent care when there were no more available appointments in the hospital. I informed her that I asked for a referral at 0710 that morning and was not given one and I asked about the impact of an outside referral. She informed me that there was no impact and that it was my right to receive the referral. Yet, I had to drive to Fort Gordon from my home in Evans to receive a referral to an urgent care back in Evans. It made no sense to me. Again, my daughter was treated promptly, but this time at the Evans Urgent Care Center. She was again diagnosed with Strep Throat; a prescription was called in to CVS, we picked it up and were back at home within minutes. I left Eisenhower Army Medical Center that day fully intent on submitting a complaint, however I got side-tracked. I have other issues concerning access to care while using Tricare Prime that I need to address but I will submit my concerns directly to the hospital.
From: Amber on: April 20, 2015
I will say I have a chronically ill children who have required numerous specialist and doctor appointments. Tricare is amazing, my family and I have chosen to pay a copay for the ability to be seen out in town. Not only does this allow me to get into see pediatrician or present to an urgent care facility when I deem necessary, but also allows for continuity of care for all of my children. As far insurance premiums go the amount of copay with Tricare is much cheaper than civilian insurance. While I understand these parents frustration, they have an alternative available to them.
From: Amy on: April 20, 2015
I think you first need to address those that continually take up the appointments that are available for unnecessary things. Minor illnesses,aches and pains that could be taken care of at home. Urgent care is not always the best care. The urgent care facility near us has prescient antibiotics for viral illnesses. That is not the standard of care and is not only raising costs but causing antibiotic resistance. Just because we are in the military and don't have to pay a copay at the MTF does not mean we can throw out all self/home care and common sense. If you had to pay $20, would you take your child in? I have been on both the military side and civilian side and when you have to pay you rethink whether it is worth being seen for that sniffle. Until you curb that and put more of a focus on home/self care, the access is not going to get better. The appointments are there, it is who is actually using them that is the problem.
From: Elizabeth on: April 20, 2015
in February, my son (17) called from school to come home early because he did not feel well. He then called back and asked me to come get him because he felt too bad to drive (bad sign for a teen). When we arrived at home I took his temperature and it was 104! He also had a dry, hacking cough, headache, chills, and complained of aching all over and feeling exhausted. As an RN I recognized him symptoms and being in the middle of flu season I was quite sure if his likely diagnosis. I called the appointment line and was transferred from one screener to another; waiting a minimum of thirty minutes on hold with each transfer. After nearly two hours of telephone hell I was finally put through to the desk at the clinic on our base. Not surprisingly, they had no appointments available. I was instructed to give him fluids and something for his fever and to call back in the morning. Only because I am familiar with the standards of acre and challenged the recommendation making them aware I am a health care professional and my child has a preexisting cardiac arrhythmia was I offered a referral to urgent care (I was denied this by two screeners before demanding to speak to the clinic). Urgent care was able to prescribe tamiflu to help lessen his symptoms and shorten the duration of his illness and help avoid complications and exposure to others in the home. Tamiflu is only effective within twenty-four hours of onset of symptoms. Waiting until the clinic may, or may not, have had an open appointment would have put him outside the effective window for treatment putting him and the rest of the family at risk. My daughter has three warts in her foot that I have been unable to get an appointment for them to be injected (the most current method of removal that does not require cutting deep warts out, especially on the bottom of the foot, and is the new standard of care) for over a year. Either there are no appointments available and/or they ran out of the medication. There is a waiting list which she is in and we have never been called. I have not been able to get my kids in for sports physicals in over two years due to no availability.
From: Angela on: April 20, 2015
Appr. April 10, 2015, My youngest was sick for the first time. He woke up croupy and congested with high fever, the croup subsided pretty quickly so i decided that taking him to see a doc the next day would be better then getting my other 2 up in the middle of the night, also considering my husband is currently deployed. I called at 6:30 am and there were no appointments until 3 days later. They also wouldn't allow me see a doc in another clinic here in Fort Campbell (There are appr 4 or 5 other ped/family clinics), and they wouldn't authorize me to take him off post. What they could do is "transfer me to the nurse advice line." I didn't need advice, I wanted me son to see a doc, not right away but at some point that day. I talked to about 10 people that morning and got absolutely no where.
From: Sabrina on: April 20, 2015
We also deal with the unavailability of acute care appointments & have been doing so for 16 years of service. Our ; years spent at Yokota AB, our children never once saw a pediatrician. We went to the base ER for everything. I'm not a parent who treats every little fever or freaks out at a cough just because & I prefer to heal my children at home but when they have something like strep, obviously they need to be seen in a timely manner. First you spend about an hour trying to get through to the appointment line, then you're told there's nothing available so then you spend hours waiting in the ER. All for something that would take 20 minutes to deal with via an acute care appointment. I won't even get into the way many mitary doctors shove aside parental concern as if a mother does not know her own child. So many of them seem to think we don't get enough attention and have nothing better to do than to drag our children into a medical office to be further exposed to germs. Currently I have 2 lumps in my mouth that have been there a year. The physician's assistant I just saw stuck his finger in my mouth and proclaimed "Well it's not cancer or anything." All I could think was wow, what an expert diagnosis. You end up seeing a different person every time. Some of them seem to take their position seriously while plenty others do not. I had intradural cspine tumors landing me in ambulances taken to hospitals several times over. Despite telling my PCM that I had them as a child and they wrapped around my brain stem, she wouldn't order even an X-ray. When I finally pushed hard enough after 4 months of literally debilitating pain, she reluctantly ordered an X-ray. And apologized immediately when giving the results. It took us 4 years to find a neurosurgeon who could remove the tumors. Tricare sent us to literally every surgeon possible, and I'm talking hand surgeons, foot surgeons and everything in between to avoid paying an out of network provider. It's just such a ridiculous charade that's being played out. Base facilities are stretched to the max with overcrowding and less money. Our 4 kids are now on standard so that we avoid the aggravation but the hit to our budget isn't so nice either.
From: Lauren on: April 20, 2015
I have had numerous experiences with this. Most recently my husband was away and myself and both children under 5 started showing flu symptoms. My husband tested postive for the flu while away. I called the central appointment line for an appointment time for the following day, because I was waiting for my 5 year old to get off the bus. It was too late to pick her up from school so I had no way to make the appointment they offered me in 15 min..not to mention I live over 15 miles away from post. I was told there were no appointments and my only choice was to go to Eisenhower ER. The urgent care clinic 3 miles away from my house is open until 8, and I called at 4:30. Reluctantly I loaded myself, a 5 yr old and a 20m old into the car in the pouring rain, passed 3 urgent care clinics and drove on to post. We sat in the waiting room for 3 hours, when we were in the room the dr acted like we were a waste of time ( I am sure we were, we are not an emergent case, but we were left no choice) the discharge took an hour and a half. After 6 hours in the ER, we were sent home with Tylenol because according to the dr. The army does not believe in flu tests or tamiflu. When I called back to get a recheck for my 20 m because he still had a cough (which the ER dr recommended a recheck on the discharge papers) I was told the next appointment was in 2.5 weeks or....I could go to the ER and have him checked. This is only the most recent account, this has been going on for years! I have spent countless hours in the ER for simple things that could be handled by a PA at an urgent care facility. It is not only a disservice to the children, it is a disservice to those in true need of emergency care.
From: Missy on: April 20, 2015
it is a rare thing to get a same day appointment. Even after calling the clinic directly and begging to be seen, I was told "we're closing, go to the ER." I refuse to take my child to sit for HOURS in an environment that will likely expose them to far worse than they're experiencing (hello, MRSA!). A sick child, sitting in a constrained environment for HOURS, because it's not an emergency, but we have no other options, is doing no one any favors. This happens VERY frequently! Why isn't urgent care an option we don't have to fight for????
From: Jill on: April 20, 2015
I have had the sick appointment problem with all of my kids. My youngest daughter's situation takes the cake. At every well baby appointmen since 4 months old, I told the doctor about my daughter's breathing problems. I was ignored each time. At her 12 month appointment, I was threatened with a "case manager" because my daughter wasn't gaining weight. Still no concern that she couldn't breathe right. After a conversation with the head nurse and a second opinion appointment, I finally got a referral to a sleep doctor for her. Her sleep study results were so bad that they admitted us to the hospital the day she dictated the results. She was in the hospital for 3 days, had emergency surgery to remove her adenoids (which the ENT said were so larger that she had a pinhole of space to breathe from). We were lucky she didn't die in her sleep while the doctors consistently ignored her problems. Countless appointments that we couldn't make because there weren't any. ER wait times that lasted 6 or more hours just to be seen and be told that "there is nothing they can do" and "follow up with your doctor." A follow up appointment couldn't be made until the next well baby appointment anyway! Tricare had a huge bill to pay from my daughter's emergency surgery and hospital stay. And it all could have been avoided with proper care. But the military isn't worried about your health unless you are dying. Once again, we are facing breathing issues with the same daughter. They said, until she has an asthma attack that puts her in the ER that there is nothing they can do. There is such a thing as preventative care. And it is cheaper for the insurance company in the long run. By the way, I have shared my story of her experience through ICE comment cards and through patient advocacy. The doctor who NEGLECTED my daughter is still practicing. Never once received a reprimand or anything for letting my daughter's condition get so bad that she was close to being unable to breathe through her nose at all. It is inhumane how military healthcare treats soldiers and their dependents. Our government should be ashamed.
From: Marilee on: April 20, 2015
We've had issues getting care with both MTF and civilian providers due to TriCare policies. On several occasions we have been sent to the ER for medical needs that could have easily been taken care of in the office. In one instance our 3 year old was sent to the ER, diagnosed with pneumonia, but when our 6 month old, who shares a room with her, presented with the same symptoms, we were told NOT there were not appointments available, not to go the ER and a dr would get back to us. He did - a week later! This fall we PCS'ed away from a military instillation. 3 weeks after the move, before I could establish a PCM, our 3 year old had her cornea scratched. TriCare sent us to the ER, who told us to follow up with an ophthalmologist. TriCare insisted on a referral from a PCM, but no TriCare approved PCM's would refer her without seeing her, and they couldn't see her because they didn't have new patient appointments available for 3 to 4 weeks. It was ridiculous. There are no procedures for medical emergencies while between PCM's on Prime. We had to switch to Standard to get any care, incurring unexpected medical expenses in the midst of a move, holidays, and my husband deploying.
From: Robyn on: April 20, 2015
Both my daughter's had appointments that were scheduled over a month ago (soonest they had). My oldest came down with a nasty cough and got an appointment a few days before her scheduled one. She had strep. We asked the doctor for a refill on her ADHD medicine (which she had already been out of for over 3 months because of tricare issues) since we were already there and she said the computer won't let her and we had to come back at my daughter's scheduled appointment time, two days later. Found out my youngest had strep as well. I started not feeling well. I called to make an appointment and told them I could possibly have strep like my daughter's did. They said they had no appointments for that day and call back tomorrow morning. I called tel-a-nurse who transferred me back to the appointment line, and they told her the soonest was a week away. The tell-a-nurse told her I needed to be seen sooner then that. The tell-a-nurse then referred me to the"Urgent Care," which at our post is also the emergency room which meant hours on end in the ER because my situation was not critical. Got upset and told her I would try another route. Called the appointment line again, they said they had one for the next day in the afternoon, but he couldn't schedule it until it was 24 hours out and I had called him in the morning. Or he said I could call in the morning to get a morning appointment. I gave up. I called early the next morning to get an appointment, but not knowing if I could work or not because I may have strep. This is also after 8 years of my daughter's and 3 years of myself being off post for our Healthcare. I got pushed off post when my husband retired (lack of space) and they have now decided that we have to all come back on post because we live on the 30 minute mark, which takes literally 2 hours JUST in driving time every time my daughter's need an appointment. Waiting for the doctor is another 2+hours, so my daughter's are basically out of school all day for one appointment. I'm not complaining of "free" Healthcare, I'm complaining because we are not treated with a basic respect for our health needs.
From: Gretchen on: April 20, 2015
In March 2015, I called the MTF about my child having a cold that would not go away and we told that the next available appointment was another 3 weeks. The very next day after my phone I called the nurse advice line and was referred to the ER. I had to wait at the ER for 5 hours to have my son treated. The ER diagnosed my child with bacterial pink eye, a double ear infection, and a upper respiratory infection.I understand that my child was not losing his life, or a limb but an Urgent Care center could have treated all of this.....there is not one in network, and since the military closed all of the on base UCCs, we are forced to go to ERs......not the best option. Overall, it costs Tricare too much money and we are utilizing an ER as a urgent care center, which it is not supposed to be used for.
From: Jenn on: April 20, 2015
My 18 month old had a fever for several days last week. I tried to call and make an appt last Tuesday and was told there were no appointments. We did get a a referral to urgent care but the dr at urgent care was not familiar with my sons kidney issue and kept telling me to give him meds that were not to be given due to the kidney issue. His MTF PCM is familiar with his issue but we could not see her. The urgent care dr also lied to my face about a medication that was given.
From: Sarah on: April 20, 2015
when my daughter had a UTI I called to schedule an appointment for her to be seen. I was told by a Tricare representative that they had no appointments available for a month. Yes that's correct, an entire MONTH. Therefore the er was our only option. 98% of the time I am told that no appointments are available for my children. Same thing happened when my daughter had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, again no appointments and a much needed er visit under our belt.
From: KL on: April 20, 2015
We are a military family with a child who has a disability. Often times, a stomach bug which might be a 24 hour illness for most kids, lands him in the ER for severe dehydration and possible Diabetic Ketoacidosis, a condition which can cause seizures, coma, or even death. I don't think that I would ever be in the position to be considered "abusing the situation" because we don't go unless the situation is dire. However, I DO think that the system is probably likely abused though. Having worked as a Medic in an MTF, I frequently DID see this happen. It's disappointing to say the least because it ruins it for everyone else who has a true need for emergent care. I don't disagree with the potential for a fee to prevent this waste. It's a lot of tax dollars every time an individual goes to the ER just for a common cold that a doctor could have done nothing for anyway, especially since the ER docs are more likely to run every test available to find the root cause. But I DO disagree with not giving another option to these individuals who say that they have such a difficult time receiving the basic medical care that they need. Maybe in addition to a fee for emergency care abuse, they could open 24 hour emergent clinics at MTF's to handle the "not-really-an-emergency- emergencies". In Italy, we had Saturday clinics that were usually pretty mild paced. They didn't require lots of man power to fund, just one doctor and two technicians and a pharmacy "machine" for basic medications that might be needed during the clinic hours (the clinic serviced about 4000+ Americans).
From: Angie on: April 20, 2015
We have trouble with this from both sides. Same day appts are taken starting at 6:45am. The line is generally busy for at least an hour, only to be told there are no same day appts available so we have to go to the ER. Then MANY times when I've called for appointments like needing a referral to a dermatologist or allergist they say there are no appts available on the calendar so call back and get a same day appt. I don't want to take away a same day appt from someone who is really sick just to be able to get a referral to dermatology! It is important, but not urgent, but that is the only way to get an appt a lot of times. Finally, the people scheduling the appts have NO medical knowledge and that can be frightening. My son had an MRI and was diagnosed with osteomyelitis...a bone infection. I called to get an appt and they told me the soonest one was three weeks away. I told her this was urgent and bone infections are life threatening. Her answer was "well the earliest I have is 3 weeks from today so do you want morning, afternoon, or nothing?"
From: Amy on: April 20, 2015
We hardly ever, like maybe 3 times in 20 years, have been lucky enough to get an acute care appointment. We used to be instructed to go to ER. Now we are instructed to call another number to directly speak to our MTF clinic. Once we call another number we are told to seek treatment at the ER. It is outrageous. We have been stationed at many of bases, Marine Corps, Army, Navy and joint bases, and it is always the same. It is frustrating enough not to be able to be seen by your doctor, or the MTF, and to have to sit in a overcrowded ER, but to now be penalized for it as well? Un -just. I have complained in every capacity possible about the sub-par healthcare we receive, and I will continue to let my voice be heard until something finally changes for the better. In general military dependents do NOT have a continuity of care, and I have seen too many major things be missed that could have been avoided if we actually had healthcare that cared.
From: Valerie on: April 20, 2015
Very familiar with having to use the ER for non emergency reasons like ear infections and UTI's because of no available appointments.
From: Jessica on: April 20, 2015
We are that family you are talking about. We often are forced to go to the ER as when we call for appointments, both adult and children, we frequently get refused or given an appointment 1-2 weeks out at best. I have even tried to walk in to the primary care clinic in pain after being refuse an appointment, told wait and then refused to be seen by the nurse who tells me to go to the ER. The appointment lines answer is go to the ER, the front desk staff answer is to go to the ER. What is someone supposed to do in pain or discomfort. Wait a week, two weeks or even a month? If my child is fevering, do I wait and hope for the best or bring them in the PM or weekend to the ER. Unlike primary care and peds, we've had really good experiences at our ER who has always made us feel comfortable going, even with something simple like an ear infection. They tell us to come when in doubt. If you don't want people using the ER, then have a 24/7 urgent care walk in clinic as private industry is doing. (we have tried to use a local urgent care and tricare refuse to reimburse us even though the clinic claimed they took tricare)
From: Rebecca on: April 20, 2015
I don't WANT to go to the ER when I do. Not many people choose to do so, and would much rather just see a dr. However, when you call to make an appt for an urgent situation, and are told that there is nothing available for 4-6wks (if anything at all) and then told that they wont give you a referral to urgent care, because there is an appt 5wks from then, that is not acceptable. and if im lucky enough to get the referral for UC, I end being charged anyhow. I also used to go to the military ER at NHB. Until they almost killed me, then got pissed at my husband for calling 911, and wouldnt tell the EMTs what they gave me, so they would know how to treat me. Not all duty stations have the military ER available to them, but I'd rather go in town, than risk my life again. Until they fix the issue of not having appts available, and having incompetent drs, then people should be allowed to at least go to the ER if necessary...
From: Bernetia Johnson on: April 20, 2015
Last year, my son broke his finger in a soccer game. He was taken to an emergency room and told he would need to see an orthopedic due to the nature of the break. The bone had been impacted into the knuckle. The next morning we called tricare for a referral. We were told he would need to see his pcm first whi check would take two weeks to get an appointment unless I called back the next morning at 0700. I called the next morning and the pcm put in for a referral which took two weeks to process and get us an appointment. By the time my son was seen by the orthopedic, they were disgusted by the condition his hand was left in. The bone had already started to heal while impacted. The only options were to either break the bone and reset it, or leave the bone the way it was resulting in possible problems such as arthritis in the future. If he had been given proper care right away, his hand would have been properly set and healed correctly. In another incident a year earlier, my son was given an overly strong dose of painkillers at the ER for treatment of a separated shoulder (he's a goalkeeper) That night he began to vomit profusely for many hours. He ended up having to return to the ER where he was put on an IV and told it was the prescription for painkillers. Tricare is supposed to help ease the mind of our service members in order to ensure the success of the mission. Both of these events happened while my spouse was tdy. Instead of my spouse feeling we had been left in good hands, he was left feeling like he had failed because the care we were given was harmful and caused physical damage to our son. I no longer trust the ER or the Tricare system with our care and hesitate to take my children to Tricare physician's. My 15 year old daughter was only able to see her assigned pcm 1 during the 3 years she was assigned to her. This shouldn't happen. Charging fees for "ER misuse" is inexcusable in such a failing system where there is no other choice available.
From: April on: April 20, 2015
I really hate having to go to the ER but it almost seems like the only way to get prompt care. On one instance, I put a call in to the pediatrician's nurse in an attempt to get help without having to do the ER thing. I never received a call back, even after trying to call again after several hours. I ended up taking my fever-laden sick boy into the ER. I have even asked the people staffing the ER point blank, "so let me get this right...the ER is actually a walk-in clinic?" To which they smirked and replied "yes". Definitely a system that needs some improvement.
From: Melissa Shields on: April 20, 2015
Within 30 mins of receiving a single immunization shot, my son developed a high fever and rash. I called the pediatric clinic on base, and as I waited for a call back, I did the normal treatment for fever, but his temperature continued to rise even after alternating Tylenol and Motrin. I tried contacting the pediatric nurse again, but was told to continue to wait for a callback. When I finally received the call, several hours later, she claimed that his fever was a normal reaction even though it had reached 104 with treatment and even though it was continuing to rise. I called again a little while later and asked if I could bring him in as it continued to climb with the max dosage and all other fever-reducing techniques. They would not see me or give me a referral to urgent care. I called again when it hit 106, and was still told that it was normal and that if I chose to go to the ER I would have to pay out of pocket. I knew that it was a dangerous situation and that the CDC should have been contacted to notify them of a possible allergic reaction to the vaccine. As a new mother I struggled with listening to the "trained medical professionals" and listening to my gut. Added to that decision was the fact that we didn't have any extra money, I felt that I had a difficult choice with absolutely no support. I wound up contacting a doctor from another state who I had used before I was married to the military. Luckily, they gave me tons of great information and I was able to manage the situation through the night and took him to an urgent care center the next morning, which was much less to pay out of pocket than the ER fee would have been. Fast-forward 9 years and I have learned that situations like this are not isolated. Instead, it is more of the norm. It is the same at most bases. I have learned how to treat many issues at home. We schedule our annual well-checks 28 days in advance. I have a pulse-ox machine and nebulizer at home. I monitor vitals and go to the UCC or ER for true emergencies. I've heard many times how nice it must be to have "free healthcare". I'm here to say that "you get what you pay for"... Which is not much. Sometimes this is a reflection on the providers who "do their time" just to pay back their loans and then get out of the military to work in the more lucrative civilian world. However, the majority of the time it is the system itself that is faulty. We were very lucky to have an amazing pediatrician at our current base, then he PCSd. Although he was great, it was very difficult to get in for time-sensitive issues. Most parents I know don't call to make an appt until those children actually need one, but they are then asked to wait another week or two to be seen. This is unacceptable. You also cannot call in and speak with someone who knows your child's medical history. You can either call a nurse hotline which is hit or miss on quality of care, or wait up to 72 hours for a return call from a nurse for your PCM. Many questions cannot wait that long. The system, just like the VA, needs an overhaul, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. The brave group of men and women in our military are a very small percentage of this country and their sacrifices are not greatly understood. The government officials are going to fight for those that put them in office and the military demographic isn't vast or rich enough to make a difference to most politicians.
From: Judith on: April 20, 2015
We are in Germany and seen at LRMC. Due to it being PCS season, the wait for appintment s is 6 weeks, unless you win the 6am call lottery. Right now they are 100%/full for both Internal Med and Pediatrics I until June, and then the schedule isn't even out. Its flat out ridiculous. The worst part is NO ONE cares, you are basically given an excuse and people pit their hands up and admit its an issue,but no one is willing to stand up the family members that are suffering. Almost 20 years of service and this is the WORST care we have ever gotten. We were at Hood with Darnall, so that's saying something knowing it was actually worse than thay. ( the place where I waited three hours in the ER without being triaged and without so much as having a staff member come out to the waiting room.)
From: Rosia on: April 20, 2015
I called at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon to make an appointment for my sick daughter for the following Monday morning. I was told that the appointment could not be made because it had to be scheduled within a 24 hour time frame. I was asked if I wanted to get a referral to an urgent care facility and I declined. It was not "urgent" and I wanted my daughter to see HER doctor. I have also heard many stories of misdiagnosis from the Urgent Care facilities and did not want to take the chance of sitting for hours with a 1 year old for substandard care. Since I declined the referral, I was told to call back at 7a.m. Monday morning and I would get a same day appointment. I called and they were already booked. I did manage to get a 7:30 a.m. appointment for Tuesday. I asked for my own knowledge since this was my first experience with a sick child and "acute appointments", (before I married I had my own insurance and had never even heard of an "acute appointment; I was always just scheduled in), what would have happened if they were already booked for Tuesday as well. I was informed that I would have had to do the same thing all over again because of the 24 hour policy for acute appointment scheduling...be sure to call at 7 a.m. and hope they had available appointments. Absolutely UNACCEPTABLE. In the future, I can see myself using Urgent Care facilities and the ER since there are so few "acute" appointments available. When you have a sick child, you will do what you have to do to get them seen by a doctor. At the same time, I can't blame the President for the proposed "emergency room misuse fee", however DoD needs to get this problem fixed. And it does not need to be fixed so that we can all just get referrals to Urgent Care facilities. Some of us actually want to see our same doctor for things other than well baby visits and yearly checkups. It is not fair to us to be farmed out to whatever doctor is available simply because we are military families.
From: Jill on: April 20, 2015
After PCSing in the summer of 2014, we found ourselves being assigned to the base MTF as opposed to a civilian pediatrician's office they had assigned us to at our previous location. We immediately began to become frustrated with the policies and lack of same day appointments available for sick children. Our 6 year old is prone to strep throat so when he began running a fever and exhibiting signs, I immediately called to make an appointment for him the following day. I was informed there were no available sick appointments for the following day (this was late afternoon) and that I could take him to urgent care. We went on our way, were seen in a timely manner and had no issues. Three days later, his 2-year old brother began exhibiting symptoms of strep throat so I called the MTF for an appointment. Again, there were no available same day appointments or even next day appointments but they told me that they could not refer us to urgent care because their policy was to not refer 2 and under off base. I was told I would need to leave a message for the nurse and wait for her to call me back. I asked what the time frame for a call back was and was told it was 48 hours max but usually occurred by the close of business. I was livid. As my child's fever kept rising, I continued to call back to the MTF to ask for further instructions. I was told that I would receive a call back from the nurse. I finally got a sympathetic individual on the appointment line who patched me through to a nurse right away. At this point, it was 5pm and they were closing. The nurse put a referral in to urgent care while also making us a follow up appointment with his PCM for the next day and we proceeded to spend the next 6 hours at urgent care. Even with his brother being diagnosed with strep 2 days before, urgent care insisted on running not only a strep test but a flu test, RSV, drew blood and ordered chest x-rays. His rapid strep came back positive in the office but we weren't informed of this until 4 hours after being called back into an exam room. At his follow up appointment the next day, I inquired about their policy to not refer children 2 years and younger off base and was told that it was due to a high amount of antibiotic dosing inaccuracies for the little ones. Sure enough, she checked what urgent care had prescribed and he had been given too high of a dose for his weight. Just last month, we called because our recently turned 3-year old was running a 104 fever and we suspected strep again. They referred him to urgent care immediately and after having a rapid strep, flu, RSV and another blood draw, they said that they weren't sure what it was but were going to treat for strep and send off a culture to be tested and would call us with the results. Because of his rising fever, they wanted to treat with a penicillin shot instead of a multiple day course of liquid antibiotic. They gave him the shot and told us they would call with the results. They called 13 days later to let us know that he actually hadn't had strep but did have another type of throat infection that would require a different class of medicine to treat. We waited 13 days to be told that he needed a different type of antibiotic. I immediately called his PCM who squeezed us in to be seen the next day (thank God for caring providers). She was livid with the care we received and apologized profusely. These are just 2 instances since moving to our new base where we have been referred to urgent care because there were no same day appointments available. Our clinic does offer walk in services for strep testing however, children under 5 are not eligible for this service. If you recall, children 2 and under are not to be referred off base for urgent care as well. This is unacceptable. Relying on urgent care and emergency facilities should not be the only option we have to get our sick children seen and treated in a timely manner. Not only do they end up running unneeded tests but we end up spending excessive amounts of time tying up beds in these facilities.
From: Ashley on: April 20, 2015
It was a Friday and my 2 year old hadn't had a BM in almost a week and was in pain. I tried everything at home that I felt comfortable doing myself. I called to make an appointment at my local Medial facility, they didn't have an opening till the following Tuesday. So I decided my child could not wait that long and took her to Urgent Care. At Urgent care they took an X-Ray of my daughters abdomen the blockage was severe. The doctor told me had I waited any longer than I did her intestines could have ruptured at home. That would have caused a number of surgeries and a long hospital stay. Then Tri Care billed me for that visit, an Urgent Care visit that saved my daughter a huge amount of pain, discomfort, infection and possibly her life. Had something worse happened and warrented an ER visit Tri Care would have paid. But, they didn't think my daughter constipation was severe enough because I brought her to an Urgent Care facility I was billed. My huband and I both work and we were able to pay the bill, but I know not all families can support that. We should not be at fault because a military medical facility was not able to treat us, or see us.
From: Whitney on: April 20, 2015
I have three children and in three years they have never seen their doctors when they were sick because there is never an appointment. My oldest gets strep throat twice a year and we are always told to go to urgent care or the er. I've even tried changing her pcm and clinic with no success. My middle child is able to get in occasionally but his clinic is a family resident practitioner clinic and I can't get my other two children into this clinic. I am constantly told that my youngest who is five months old that she has to see a pediatrician who I have to schedule her monthly appointments a month in advance to see, and he dismisses all concerns as nothing until they turn into something a week later. I am tired of not being able to get my kids in and not being able to have them in a clinic with pcms that I am comfortable with.
From: Lisa on: April 20, 2015
One cold and flu season, we saw our childrens' pediatrician ONCE. The other 8 times we were seen (between two children) was at an urgent care clinic off base because appointments were unavailable on base. I would call first thing in the morning and oftentimes was put on hold for an hour. After this, we switched to Tricare Standard and have never looked back. We have since PCS'd, and under Tricare Standard, in both locations, we have always been able to obtain a same-day appointment with our civilian pediatricians, as it should be!
From: Elizabeth on: April 20, 2015
It's an extremely frustrating, broken system. I have learned to never call unless we are super sick. Even then, I start calling as soon as the line opens up. Forget trying after the first 30 minutes as they will be booked up for the day. Despite that, we have a 50% chance of securing a same day appointment. If we don't get a same day we have the option of putting a note in with the nurse line to call back. If she can squeeze us in that day or try to schedule us for another day it's a huge blessing, if not, we have the option to come in for after hours care (off post), beginning at 1700. This was the case just a month ago when my son suddenly became ill. They didn't have anymore appointments so the poor guy waited in agony for the entire day only to find out he had Type B flu. By the time we were seen, he was tested and waited for the results he was reduced to tears due to to the pain. Thankfully we caught it in time for him to take Tamiflu. Then I caught it. (Even though I was seen at the same time, the dr. never thought to swab me, he thought allergies). I suffered through with it for the next two weeks because I didn't have the energy to keep calling or make the drive to be seen. We can also choose to visit the ER. I can't groan about this choice enough. We live where there is training conducted year round. The joes have priority to be seen over dependents, unless you are critical. They have joe crud and a myriad of other illnesses you get to sit and marinate in for hours on end until it's your turn. This option clogs up the ER for those that really need it. I will only go to the ER if it's a necessity. Lastly, we can have a crack at the appointment line the following day and start the process all over again. They need to assess the needs of the military and their spouses before trying to penalize us. I can't tell you how many times I've seen in different groups a mama asking for recommendations for a good doctor, on or off post, based on her needs and beliefs for her and/or her child(ren).
From: Amy on: April 20, 2015
I think that the numerous comments left previously demonstrate the lack of same day appointments when trying to call in for an urgent appointment. However, another issue that needs to be addressed is that Tricare online appointment scheduling is unreliable. I have tried numerous times to use it to make a same day appointment, and only once has it been successful. Several other friends have had the same experience. Often times I will log onto Tricare online at the same time I'm on hold on the phone and the two systems have completely different appointments (if any) available.
From: Donna on: April 20, 2015
Called PCM at Family Practice for appt for lower stomach pains for myself. Told there were none. Go to ER. This happened in Sept 2014 at Portsmouth Naval.
From: Charlene on: April 20, 2015
My children have been forced to see base docs since Oct 2014, they previous saw civilian. Both of my children suffer from very bad asmatic bronchitis during winter months. This year alone we have been forced to visit the ER two times and urgent care about a dozen bc of the lack of appointments on base. Don't get me wrong they might have one appointment on base when you call but the time doesn't always work out either. Not to mention that both of my children have been misdiagnosed by the PCM on base. My 2 year old ended up with Pnemonia and my 5 yr old on steroids for a horrible blistering rash, that urgent care had to prescribe something for.
From: Joanna on: April 20, 2015
I am a Navy brat and a Navy wife. I have been a military dependent for the majority of my life. We have always been Prime. Our youngest was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that is chronic. She is going to need specific care and following for the rest of her life. After spending several months trying to get referrals lined up, including an appointment with her PCM made solely to discuss how to proceed (at this appointment it was clear to me that she had not made an effort to familiarize herself with my daughter's conditions), I gave up and went standard. Her Within days of doing so, the hospital liaison reached out to me, they offered me a care manager....... Where were all these people while we were trying to figure it all out?? We're sticking with Standard, because I don't have to jump through hoops to get her to the various specialists she needs to see. We kept our oldest Prime until I called for a same day sick appointment and was told there was nothing available for nine days. I made the phone call, put her on Standard, and she was seen at the new practice the next morning.
From: Elizabeth on: April 20, 2015
At our last base, I was shocked if I could get a same day appointment. They handed out urgent care referrals like candy. Drove me crazy because my oldest was assigned to family practice and a toddler ought to see her doctor for something other than well child visits. Our official medical records say nothing but referred to urgent care. Our current base has a hospital (instead of just a clinic) as well a family medicine residency program, so appointments are easier. Peds is hard to get appointments unless you're on the phone right at 6:30 when the appointment line opens. And I've even been told I was getting a same day appointment for a kid complaining of ear pain only to show up and be told the appointment line people had scheduled it a week out. They agreed I was probably right but wouldn't or couldn't work my daughter in, and they sent is to the base ER. That's the big thing here. Everyone gets sent to the ER. They have a couple of "fast track urgent care" beds set up, and it usually doesn't take too long, but it's still medical care through an ER, and I'm not the only one who's had a kid misdiagnosed. Because of the ER though, they refuse to give referrals to civilian urgent care centers unless you're out of town. I know of people who don't like the ER staff, so they take their kids to the civilian children's ER so they can at least see a pediatrician. I don't like wasting the time of ERs for urgent but non-emergency issues so I put up with the base. We have prime, and I'm a SAHM, so we pretty much just have to deal.
From: Khrista on: April 20, 2015
On 4/14/15 my daughter was sent home from school, with a fever of 100.1, and a sore throat. School nurse said she needed to be seen by a doctor that day. By the time i had picked her up some medicine and got her hope (20 min)/her fever was up to 102.5. I called her clinic on fort Bragg and of course they had nothing available for a week. I was transferred to the nurse advice line. Then transferred again to the regional nurse line for Tricare and had to have a referral put in for her for urgent care to be seen within 5hours. Took her in and waited anther 2 hours. Turned out to be strep throat and missed the rest of the week of school.
From: Amy on: April 20, 2015
We are stationed in Italy, where 90% of people who we encounter off post don't speak enough English to carry on a brief conversation. The basic Italian I have learned doesn't cover medical care! We have four children and the 8:00-3:30 hours Monday thru Friday that our clinic is open rarely provide time to cover our basic medical needs. Any sickness that occurs outside of that time frame is handled by a hospital where the doctors and nurses, though knowledgeable, still can't speak my language!
From: kathy on: April 20, 2015
When my son was 3 years old I took him to urgent care for xrays of his arm While at a friends house another child had jumped on his arm and I thought it might be broken. The man came back and said nope it isn't broken however the next day it was swollen and appeared to me to be fractured. So I took him to a children's hospital about 20 miles away for xrays again. The doctor confirmed it was yes indeed broken and if it did not set correctly with a cast in 48 hours they may need to go in a place pins and screws to help it to heal correctly. When I looked at the xray the military care giver had taken the break was plain as the nose on my face. Needless to say I was furious and told them HE was NOT qualified to read xrays of any kind for any reason! Thank God the childrens hospital was able to set his arm and make it heal back as normal as possible. I've also had military OBGYN's unable to make a clear examination on myself and they missed the Cervical cancer I had in 1991 which caused a miscarriage for me due to their lack of skill and capabilities to do their job efficiently and NOT miss something as severe as cancer! Now when they tried to send me to Darnell Army hospital to an OBGYN for my yearly pap smear I refused. We are now retired and I have Tri-Care Prime therefore I refuse to ever have any military medical person ever see me again. After all we did 24 yrs in the Navy and EVERY TIME my husband signed those re-enlistment papers they promised we would have FREE medical for him and his dependents for the rest of our lives. Thanks to Hillary Clinton she changed all of that when Bill was in office and it is NOT FREE now! What a rip off broken promises and tons of lies the military told us for many years!!!!!LIARS and I do not trust them. My son is a corpsman in the Navy and if he isn't able to help me I will gladly pay to see my own Primary Care Giver. When my husband had a stroke they sent him to Great Lakes to see a Neurologist and when we arrived every certificate that man had on his walls in his office said he was a DENTIST! So just one more QUACK to add to the list they tried to pawn us off on for medical care! NO THANK-YOU!
From: Addy on: April 20, 2015
I've been having pain with my ears for 4 weeks now! At it's most extreme, I called for assistance. Of course this was on a Saturday too. Upon speaking with the nurse advice line, she deemed it necessary to see a dr. in the next 18 hours, and stated that she was putting in a referral for urgent care, which I was satisfied with. When she passed me off to the appointment manager to find the nearest location, she said that my only option was our local military base's ER. There was no WAY I was going to go sit all day in our ER (from which I've heard some horror stories). The nurse said "next 18 hours"- NOT an emergency! Urgent care and EMERGENCY care are 2 different things. Usually during the week I can get an appointment within 2 days, there's NEVER anything avail day of! There's nothing in between, it's infuriating!
From: Katherine Hyer on: April 20, 2015
I have the longest story eve. I even wrote a letter about it to the hospital commander. My daughter has been so sick. She could never see her doctor. She kept seeing divergent doctors who would keep giving her drugs. I brought her to the ER multiple times. I got so fed up I had to switch her to standard to save her life. I cried and begged for help. The base hospital almost killed her. I have the letter I just wrote in the fall describing what I went through if you want it. For my son he was missing school because of headaches. I tried making appointments but could not get in to see his PCM. No one would help. He was missing a lot of school. I would schedule an appointment and the clinic would cancel it. It happened 3xs. Finally I changed Doctors. Not sure if it will help but I am trying. There are no appointments available when you call. Your only choice is an ER which you sit at for 4-8 hours.
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