Fort Carson has opened its second community-based clinic in Colorado Springs in a bid to push more medical care to the 80 percent of troops and family members who live off-post.

The center, on Space Center Drive near Platte Avenue and Powers Boulevard, is called the The Mountain Post Medical Home. Like its sister clinic, the Premier Medical Home on Union Boulevard, it's designed to function like a civilian primary care practice built for military customers.

Developing Army-administered medical clinics off the installation allows for more convenient access to medical care for active-duty dependents, retirees and their families, said Michael Wheeler, group practice manager for the facility.

"We moved things out to the community where people live. And because this is just family practice, and not a specialty clinic, that also opens up more space in the hospital so they can do more specialty care," Wheeler said.

Marvin Wooten, retired 17 years from the Army, was one of the first to enroll at the new clinic, following his primary care manager over from Premier Medical Home.

Fort Carson's Evans Army Community Hospital is a 20-mile round trip for him, and Wooten said getting an appointment with his primary care manager often took weeks.

Now that he is enrolled in the off-post clinic, Wooten said, he can get an appointment on the same day.

"You call them up, and you don't even have to fake dying to see your doctor on the same day," he said.

Same-day scheduling is one of many advantages to the new model, Wheeler said.

The 35-member civilian staff includes seven primary care managers, two family medicine physicians, a pediatrician, two nurse practitioners, a physician assistant and a behavioral health care provider.

The 14,000-square-foot facility, which includes a pharmacy, is designed to provide for the health care needs of 8,124 enrolled patients with about 5,000 patients currently enrolled.

"It's small enough to get our arms around," Wheeler said of the facility.

"We can get our arms around the patients because we get to know them and build relationships with them."