JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Over the past several months the 15th Medical Group (MDG) has worked to reorganize its medical personnel to better serve Airmen, their families and return Airmen to duty quicker.
Last month, the 15th MDG completed and opened the new Sky Warrior and Ohana Clinics. The two clinics will feature separate provider teams: one that will care for active duty Airmen and one that will care for families of service members and military retirees.
“This new structure optimizes both priorities and allows us to return Airmen back to full mission capability as quickly as possible without decrementing care to our beneficiaries,” said Brig. Gen. Susan J. Pietrykowski, Office of the Air Force Surgeon General director of manpower, personnel and resources. “Restructuring where care is delivered lets our providers focus on each group to improve the quality of care, create efficiencies, and most importantly, get injured or ill Airmen back into the fight more quickly.”
This organizational structure is based on a pilot the 366th Medical Group, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, began in summer 2018. The group reorganized into two squadrons with the goal of returning Airmen to duty as quickly as possible.
“This reorganization allows us to focus on “Ready Airmen” to make sure our Commanders have the people they need to accomplish their mission,” said Col. Kara Gormont, 15th MDG commander. “This model is truly about building a relationship between the primary care manager, the patient, and the commander.”
Under the new model, provider teams are able to holistically treat Airmen instead of waiting for an Airman to seek out care. They visit with Airmen in their duty locations to understand the personal and workplace challenges they face and partner with unit leaders to proactively manage Airmen’s care and minimize downtime.
“Equally as important as our focus on our Airmen is our focus on dependents and retirees,” added Gormont. “Our Airmen can’t be fully mission capable if the medical care of their families is neglected. Providing a clinic that is focused solely on dependents and retirees allows our Ohana Clinic to meet the unique needs of this population while the Sky Warrior Clinic focuses on Active Duty requirements. Our goal is to improve care for all of our patients.”
Maj. Mark Pomerleau, 15th MDG nurse manager, addressed the current impact the new changes are having on appointments.
"Our appointment availability in the Ohana Clinic (beneficiary) has been reduced temporarily due to decreased availability of our providers. We have several visiting providers that are assisting and seeing patients in clinic to help with the workload,” he said. “We anticipate that our appointment availability will improve over the next few weeks as we return to normal operations."
According to Pomerleau, dependents are able to call in to the appointment line as usual and will be triaged by the nurses to guide in receiving the most appropriate care for their needs. Dependents are also able to seek care at Schofield Barracks Urgent Care, any civilian urgent care that accepts TRICARE or if symptoms are more severe, the Tripler Army Medical Center ER is available 24 hours.
The reorganization is in its early stages and staff are excited to see the results in the upcoming months. The Air Force Medical Service plans to initially roll out the new medical organization model to 43 Air Force military treatment centers within the continental United States, using Mountain Home and Hickam as pilot locations.