MDG acting commander explains mission

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Paul Willingham
  • 22nd Medical Group acting commander
Over the last two months, I've had the honor and privilege to serve as the 22nd Medical Group acting commander...Col. Russell Boester is now on-board and I'll have returned to squadron command duties while you're reading this.

Many things will return to "ops normal" as the dynamics associated with deployments subsides. However, when it comes to pride and admiration for the men and women of the 22nd MDG, something has permanently changed ... they've helped me reach a new high-water mark...a new normal if you will.

I can tell you, without fail, that each of these 267 members takes what they do for our warfighters and families (both past and present) very seriously ... the smoothness and efficiency with which they orchestrate medical operations is simply amazing.

Our wing priorities are Ready Airmen, Ready Mobility and Ready Base; the medical group is an equal partner in the installation's ability to meet those requirements.

From a Ready Airman and family perspective, your medical group strives to provide premier healthcare that is fostered by teamwork and trust. To that end, we will execute the following encounters/visits in a typical week:
  • Family Practice - 534
  • Women's Health - 48
  • Life Skills - 98
  • Physical Therapy - 103
  • Flight Medicine - 119
  • Optometry - 48
  • Immunizations - 568
  • Laboratory tests - 1,346
  • Nutrition Consults - 23
  • Dental - 248
  • Pharmacy Prescriptions- 3,120
  • Radiology - 101
It takes three distinct squadrons, a diverse team of highly-trained providers, nurses, technicians and support staff and a cohesive mix of Active Duty, Air Force civilians, contractor staff and Red Cross/Retiree Affairs Volunteers to execute this mission. While getting all the pieces and parts to move in the same direction sounds complex, most of our patients will never see the myriad of "behind the scenes" people that make it all come together ... but each is there, focused on providing the best service they can - for you.

These three squadrons must operate in unison to get the job done; take one out of the mix and mission execution degrades rapidly. Together, we provide a full spectrum of services in addition to day-to-day healthcare operations; 22nd MDG staff is integrally involved in Drug Demand Reduction, Health and Wellness, Behavioral Health and in the training of Airmen base wide (think Self Aid Buddy Care, etc).

Bottom line: We directly facilitate and enhance the physical, mental and social pillars of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness.

Ready Mobility means our wing can fully execute its assigned nuclear and conventional missions. The medical group is a key player here as well. We are at the forefront when it comes to medically clearing mission executors and expeditionary combat support personnel, or pushing deployable medical assemblages to forward locations.

McConnell has 400 to 500 staff deployed at any given time and our goal is to ensure medical/dental issues do not prevent the base from supporting combatant commander requirements. From a medical deployment perspective, we have sent 21 personnel (12 percent of our active duty staff) to locations throughout the world year to date; this is up from 12 personnel in 2008 and 20 in 2009 and we are just over halfway point of 2010.

We are proud players in the "lifeline to the frontline" healthcare provided to our Airmen and sister service/coalition counterparts should they become injured or ill. And we're doing this mission better than ever in the recorded history of warfare.

Ready Base means we sustain and protect the capability of the installation we operate from ... it's in and of itself a deployment platform that enables our Air Force to project refueling, cargo movement and aeromedical evacuation excellence. To keep our home station ready for any commitment, the medical group engages in continuous training for our Airmen and we validate our degree of success through rigorous inspections from the Air Force Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration, and numerous civilian accreditation agencies.

Members of our bioenvironmental engineering and public health shops work with base agencies to aid in keeping our workplaces and food sources safe for all; while caring individuals in the support squadron feed the resources needed to keep daily operations moving forward and our facility up to par.

Within the medical group, it's a total team effort focused on meeting wing priorities as we take care of the finest healthcare beneficiaries in the Air Force. To the 22nd Medical Group staff reading this ... my hat's off to you as you support the mission each and every day and thanks for the opportunity to be a part of your lives.