The grand opening of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s Embedded Behavioral Health Center was held June 18 at bldg 1170, behind Glory Chapel. Col. Mark C. Wilhite, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital commander, opened the event by signing the Army Medicine Health Care Covenant.

The grand opening of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s Embedded Behavioral Health Center was held June 18 at bldg 1170, behind Glory Chapel. Col. Mark C. Wilhite, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital commander, opened the event by signing the Army Medicine Health Care Covenant.
The covenant communicates the hospital’s commitment to deliver maximized physical and behavioral health promotion, improved quality outcome focused care and services and better access and continuity of care. In the covenant BJACH also commits to providing the highest quality care, support during the healing process, assistance in returning soldiers to duty or assisting their transition to civilian life and a healing environment that focuses on mind, body and spirit.
“Today is a great day for the soldiers of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division,” Wilhite said. “While we just signed the Army Health Care Covenant reaffirming our commitment to the beneficiaries who receive care at Fort Polk, this behavioral health center is the next step in fulfilling that commitment. This center will have a tremendous impact on 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div and the entire Fort Polk community. By design, the center is located in the heart of 4-10 country. This proximity helps facilitate improved access to behavioral health care, improved continuity of care, enhanced behavioral health, provider communication with commanders and a reduction of the stigma often associated with seeking behavioral health. All of which will lead to higher rates of commander and soldier satisfaction."
Col. Migdalia Machado, Behavioral Health commander, said she has been looking forward to the grand opening and told the audience that it was one of the main reasons she chose to come to Fort Polk.
“I knew Fort Polk was going to be embarking on the massive accomplishment that we are acknowledging today," he said. "We want to make sure that Fort Polk has the best and this is what we are doing to make sure it happens."
The new Behavioral Health Center began life as a troop shoppette. In the last four and a half months, it has been transformed at the cost of $2.1 million.
“When you walk through this facility, you’ll see what a great job has been done turning this building into a premier Behavioral Health Center and I think you’ll agree that it’s exactly what our soldiers deserve," he said. "These centers are a key component of the behavioral health system of care campaign plan intended to further standardize and optimize the provision of behavioral health care across Army medicine. The campaign aims to ensure seamless continuity of care to better identify, prevent, track and treat behavioral health issues that affect soldiers and families."
Soldiers are more apt to seek help from providers embedded with their unit because it is more accessible to their work day, according to Machado.
“I think having an embedded health unit in the footprint of 4/10 makes it easier and more convenient for soldiers to seek help," she said. "They are able to stop by the dining facility or gym and behavioral health is within easy reach,” she said.
Wilhite said that studies show deploying units with ready access to embedded behavioral health units have displayed significant improvement in functioning and a decrease in the risk factors that lead to behavioral health acute hospitalizations.
“One of the main principles of the Army Medical Command is to move Army medicine from a health care system to a system of health," Wilhite said. "This means more than just an absence of illness or injury. A system of health means getting beneficiaries into a true state of wellness to include physical, emotional, social, Family and spiritual components. This embedded behavioral health center is a key component to comprehensive soldier fitness."
Communication is another crucial element to the success of the center, said Machado. She encouraged soldiers, as well as commanders and leadership to use the facility and staff.
“If you don’t understand what’s going on with a soldier, I can tell you what’s going on in the unit and help you understand what I do or my staff does in terms of treating soldiers," Machado said. "Understanding what behavioral health is about and how to use it is an important concept because it decreases stigma. In terms of the Army and even in the civilian world, decreasing stigma is goal number one. I’m devoted to embedded behavioral health because as providers, we are combat multipliers. We are going to help you figure out what’s going on within your unit by identifying trends and collaborating to improve unit readiness — that’s our mission. My staff are professionals trying to work proactively to help soldiers identify and manage behavioral health issues, get better and reduce the risk factors that will help them cope with their every day problems and be better soldiers."
She said the center is important is because it allows soldiers to see the same provider every time they visit.
“Continuity in care, as Colonel Wilhite mentioned, is another significant consideration," Machado said. "There needs to be a therapeutic relationship with a patient. We can do that by always seeing the same patient and working with them in terms of setting up evidence-based treatment plans. That is the foremost vision of what behavioral health is trying to do at this center. Our doors are now open to 4/10 soldiers and leadership. Stop in and help us help you."
“I’m proud to be a part of this endeavor and look forward to working with the soldiers from 4/10," Wilhite said. "Serving to heal, honored to serve."