Health care in Stuttgart explained

Barbara Roper, a pharmacist at the Army Health Clinic Stuttgart, fills prescriptions at the clinic on Patch Barracks. Photo by Becca Castellano

Stuttgart Army Health Clinic

The health system for service members, retirees, civilians and their families in Germany consists of local military community health services on Patch Barracks and Kelley Barracks, local host nation medical facilities for inpatient and outpatient primary and specialty care, and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC).

Upon arrival in Stuttgart, Tricare beneficiaries must complete local enrollment during the healthcare in-processing brief at the Central Processing Facility. If not able to attend the brief, enrollment can also be completed at the Tricare Service Center located at the Patch Health Clinic. Civilians are also strongly encouraged to register at the clinic. Service members need to in-process through Medical Readiness to ensure all immunizations, periodic health examinations, etc., are up to date.

Lobby inside U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart. Photo by Marcus Fichtl

The Stuttgart military community is served by the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic on Patch Barracks, the Kelley Barracks clinic annex and the Stuttgart Dental Clinic on Panzer Kaserne.

The health clinic provides health care using the patient-centered medical home model which is a team-based health care delivery model, led by a physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner, that provides comprehensive and continuous medical care to patients. The services offered at the health clinic include: primary care, pediatrics, behavioral health, optometry, physical therapy, wellness center, telehealth, and public health.

Photo by Marcus Fichtl

The Stuttgart Army Health Clinic does not provide emergency services; it relies on local German hospitals to provide emergency care. For this reason, in case of an emergency, do not go to the Stuttgart clinic. Dial 112 from a civilian phone to reach the German emergency services. From on-base DSN phones, dial 116 for the Military Police desk. The MPs can then contact additional emergency services as needed.

Care at the Patch and Kelley Clinic is provided based on enrollment status. Service members and their command-sponsored families have priority access to the clinic. All Retirees not already enrolled with the clinic along with civilians, contractors and their families should check-in with the health clinic to determine if space is available for them to receive care.

The Kelley Clinic Annex offers adult primary care (primary care appointment only).

Olivia Phillips, a health educator at the Stuttgart Army Wellness Center, administers a test. Photo by Paul Hughes

Dental Clinic

The dental clinic’s primary mission is to provide dental treatment to service members on active duty orders for 30 days or more. Dependents who are on the service members’ orders or who are command sponsored are seen on a space-available basis.

The dental clinic provides general dentistry and hygiene appointment as well as specialty care for pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics and periodontics. Services in endodontics are currently limited. Services in orthodontics are available on a case-by-case basis, as well as being limited to active duty personnel and children under 18. Some oral surgery support is available at the clinic, but complex surgery is referred to LRMC.

The Tricare Dental Plan was implemented to assist with dental care for family members and retirees. It is available worldwide, both inside and outside the continental United States. United Concordia is the carrier for this plan. For more information, visit https://www.uccitdp.com.

Host nation medical care

For some services, primary care providers may refer patients to host nation facilities, and the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic maintains relationships with an extensive network of English-speaking providers for specialty care on the German economy.

Tricare Prime beneficiaries should contact their primary care team for routine off-post referrals then contact International S.O.S. (ISOS) to obtain authorization. Host nation treatment facilities may refuse to see Prime beneficiaries without ISOS authorization for routine care. They should also notify ISOS for all emergency care authorization and billing issues. ISOS can be reached by telephone at CIV 0800-5891599 (toll-free from Germany) or Europe-wide at 0044-20-8762-8384 (international rates apply).

Those who are referred off-base should be aware that host nation medical clinics and hospitals have similar standards of care as those in the U.S., however, we may have culture differences. For example, the general approach to how pain is addressed after a surgery can be quite different than the care you are accustomed to in the U.S.

Though many host nation doctors speak English, their staff may or may not. If you do not speak German, take a bilingual dictionary with you or call Interpretation Services. The Language Line has more than 700 different languages available (DSN 590-8255 or +1 800 523 1786; the system will then ask for your Client ID: 574003).

During rounds, junior physicians often accompany attending physicians. This can make it difficult for patients to feel comfortable asking questions. Write down your questions. During rounds is the appropriate time to ask if the doctor has time to address your questions, especially if you are requesting hospital discharge or pain management. If the doctor cannot answer at that time, ask when the doctor can return. Host nation patient liaisons should be able to assist if you are having difficulties communicating. Some German physicians may not be in the habit of explaining details to patients. They will answer all questions when asked, but sometimes do not volunteer all results or information. Be sure to ask doctors about the treatment plan.

German privacy standards may differ from what many Americans are used to, so please keep in mind that we are in their country. Host nation physicians may not always use a chaperone when examining patients of the opposite sex. Ask for a chaperone if you feel uncomfortable.

Generally, there are no privacy screens between beds. Do not wear transparent clothing. Take appropriate clothing that allows you to remain semi-dressed during an upper body exam. Patients may be asked to undress while nursing staff is passing through the area. This is considered proper. Please be respectful of their standards but do not hesitate to inform the staff if you feel uncomfortable.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

LRMC is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Stuttgart area. It offers a wide variety of specialty clinics and is a Level II Trauma Center verified by the American College of Surgeons. Major surgeries, specialty services and most other services not available at the Stuttgart clinics are available at LRMC. Visiting the specialty clinics at LRMC starts with a referral from Stuttgart’s primary care providers.

Telehealth and online services

The Telehealth Program directly connects geographically separated patients at U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart with specialty care providers at LRMC via the use of video-teleconferencing. Patients can expect that advanced medical devices such as otoscopes, stethoscopes and general exam cameras to be used if applicable. This service can alleviate the need to travel to LRMC while still receiving the same specialty care. You may initiate a Telehealth referral by either obtaining a referral from a clinic provider or by self-referral.

The Stuttgart health clinic uses the online “Relay Health System”, in addition to online services offered by Tricare, to maximize the health care services pro- vided. Relay Health is an online messaging service that allows patients to contact their primary care provider and ask those questions, or receive advice that may not require an in-person appointment. This system is a secured messaging system and is a great way to get lab results, prescription refills or ask non-urgent medical questions. If you are out of refills on any of your medication, please know that your primary care manager may want to see you in the clinic before placing a new order for medications.

Tricare Online offers a way for eligible patients to schedule or cancel appointments at any time. Patients can even look at their lab results and submit medical bills online. For more information go to the Tricare website at https://www.tricareonline.com. Note: To use this service, you have to register and create a user ID and password. Patients are highly encouraged to submit medical bills via https://www.tricareonline.com. A manager may want to see you in the clinic before placing a new order for medications.