ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger, the U.S. Air Force surgeon general, completed his first visit to Andersen Air Force Base on April 17.
Ediger was joined by Chief Master Sgt. George Cum, the chief, medical enlisted force and enlisted corps chief, to speak with Team Andersen’s medical Airmen and to gain a better understanding of medical operations on Guam.
“This is my first time visiting Andersen,” Ediger said. “I have been looking forward to visiting Guam and getting to see some of the mission capabilities.”
Leaders from the 36th Medical Group met with Ediger to discuss some of the unique aspects of running a medical squadron on an island geographically separated from most of the world. Some unique aspects the clinic has to deal with is shipment of supplies to and from Guam, which are frequently delayed. This is especially challenging for perishable drugs and laboratory specimens.
“In our laboratory we receive blood samples for testing from patients,” said Lt. Col. James Weinstein, 36th Medical Support Squadron commander. “We have to box the test up, pair the samples, wrap them in dry ice and ship them back to the United States. If they arrive out of temperature due to shipment delays, it will require us redoing the blood test for the individual.”
While lab testing is often more difficult than usual, the high salinity and humidity of the air can cause rust and wear on medical equipment, which increases the need for turnover. All these factors combined, make medical care on the island more challenging than on the mainland.
After meeting with local leaders, the Air Forces senior medical officials toured the various clinics in the squadron to meet with Airmen. Ediger and Cum acknowledged and coined several of the Airmen in recognition for their accomplishments and dedication to the mission on Guam.
“Having this visit is important to us because it also gave us a chance to showcase our Airmen and the incredible work that they do,” Weinstein said. “We haven’t had a surgeon general visit since 2011.”
Ediger became surgeon general in June 2015. As the senior Air Force medical leader, he advises the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force, as well as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs on matters pertaining to the medical aspects of the air expeditionary force and the health of service members and families.
"The staff here in Guam is doing an outstanding job ensuring our Airmen and their families are receiving world-class medical care." said Lt. Gen. Ediger.