By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
The Army-wide Performance Triad will be officially introduced to Fort Knox June 2-6. The program is a dynamic paradigm shift in health philosophy, said Lt. Col. Kelly Longenecker, the action officer for the Performance Triad at Ireland Army Community Hospital and chief of case management.
“The Performance Triad is a reflection of the shift from being a healthcare system to being a system of health,” she said.
While that may sound like the old shell game in verbal form, it’s much more, Longenecker said. People in a system of health will be more cognizant of their health and that system puts the responsibility for health on the patient, not a professional provider.
According to the Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, most military beneficiaries are only seen by their primary care providers an average of five times a year, for 20- minute appointments. That’s a total of 100 minutes in the entire year. There are 525,600 minutes in an average year.
“That means people are outside the clinic for 525,500 minutes of the year, because we only see patients when they’re sick. In that 525,500 minutes is where health really happens, not in the doctor’s office,” Horoho said.
“We want to give people the tools to make their own best choices,” explained Longenecker. “The responsibility for health is really the individual’s which is why we implemented the Secure Messaging System (also known as Relay Health) so they can text, email or call their provider team at any time.”
The approach to this system of health is the Performance Triad—a three-legged stool of the primary factors of health: sleep, activity and nutrition. Each area must be functioning properly for the other two to operate optimally; deficits in one will affect the other two.
The Performance Triad is not just another fad, either. It’s a lifestyle change and everyone knows that change takes time. The Performance Triad is best implemented with the 26-week health challenge that will be offered in more detail as the program is fleshed out and the Army Wellness Center, another piece of the PT lifestyle, comes on line at Knox. The opening is expected in July.
The PT is not a set of rules either, but a set of guidelines, explained Longenecker.
“There’s no one prescription that will work for everyone, but be willing to try different things,” she said. “Performance Triad just asks that you give a fair effort to trying healthier options, then find one that works for you and stick with it.”
Adopting healthier lifestyles benefits more than the individual’s personal health, but their family and perhaps the entire nation. Child obesity levels in the U.S. are reaching epidemic proportions and the best way to reverse that trend is by teaching youngsters, both didactically and by example.
“If you don’t think you could make lifestyle changes for yourself, what about for your children? Wouldn’t it be worth it to know you’re leaving a healthier set of genetics for your kids?”
Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, the U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox commander, has placed particular emphasis on this program so that it will be introduced to the thousands of young cadets who will be coming through the Fort Knox gates this summer.
“My goal is to make the Performance Triad part of the Army’s DNA,” Horoho said in a briefing to health care professionals. She added that this program is not just for the Medical Command, but every major command in the Army should adopt the initiative to reap the most rewards.
“My goal is to incorporate the Performance Triad into everything we do on this post,” Longenecker said. “My intention is to make this program successful so the post will be successful—Soldiers, family members, civilian employees, retirees, every demographic that lives here. We want to include the cadets while they’re here, too, because if they adopt this early enough, it will be a lifestyle for them.”
Healthier youngsters should age into healthier Soldiers, who should age into healthier retirees and all those healthier populations could mean a healthier wallet for Uncle Sam. The medical portion of the Army’s budget is nearly 20 percent, so improved health is beneficial to every taxpayer.
Campaign materials will appear all next week in various locations on post: Monday, the Performance Triad team will be at the HRC café at lunch time; Tues-day an information table will be in the commissary after work hours; Wednesday the information will be distributed at the Exchange Food Court; Thursday the table will be at Gammon and Natcher Physical Fitness Centers and in the IRACH lobby. A more interactive event is planned for Friday, June 6 at the IRACH cafeteria, where a healthy tasting will be available for everyone. Healthy food samples and recipes will be provided.
More information about each segment of the Performance Triad—sleep, activity and nutrition—will be provided each week in June.