Merri-Beth Cully, MPA, PA-C, has devoted many hours to the care of the nation’s wounded warriors. As the lead physician assistant (PA) for the orthopaedic surgery service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., she provides care to all of the orthopaedic wounded warriors returning from theater, and she works tirelessly to collaborate with the trauma team providers to give the best surgical services available from a military treatment facility, says the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).
That’s why Cully, an AAPA fellow, was recently named a MOAA 2012 Community Hero. She is the first PA to earn this honor in the individual/civilian category. MOAA’s website noted that her “performance stands above all others — directly assisting in more than 1,700 Operation Enduring Freedom cases and consistently performing above and beyond the call of duty. She schedules and verifies the accuracy of more than 2,000 cases and 6,900 operative procedures, assessing, identifying, implementing, and evaluating processes, and she has been invaluable in streamlining the coordination of surgical cases. Her vigilance and meticulous tracking of patients have decreased the overall time a wounded warrior is in the operating room and significantly increased the capability and efficiency of scheduling in the operating room.”
As the orthopaedic representative at the monthly long-term care meeting for all casualties, Cully’s contributions have enabled hundreds of wounded warriors to obtain the required on the complete multidisciplinary care these wounded warriors require, MOAA says.orthopaedic follow-on care and equipment they need. Such oversight closes the loop on the complete multidisciplinary care these wounded warriors require, MOAA says.
Cully sets the standards, directs, coaches and supports five PAs. Her oversight directly ensures all clinics have a PA assigned, which has led to a decrease in patient encounter time by 20 percent. Cully improved the processes in the clinic by creating three PA-run clinics, increasing the amount of patients seen on a daily basis by 28 percent.
Her insight and uncanny ability to see the big picture has increased the capacity of the orthopaedic clinic, which prevented hundreds of patients from being deferred to the civilian TRICARE network and saved the command thousands of dollars.