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23rd MDG, community medical providers strengthen bond

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 23rd Medical Group and more than 40 medical providers from the local community collaborated during an event Sept. 15, strengthening their working relationship. 

The event included individual introductions of base and community medical providers, an educational presentation about the base's separate missions and duty descriptions, and a base tour which included a visit to the Warrior Athlete Center of Excellence.

“The goal is to connect and get to know each other,” said Col. Jay Vietas, 23rd MDG commander. “I’m very thankful to [our community providers] not only for taking time out of their busy schedules, but for being a part of our network. 

“I think of [our network providers] as a part of our 23rd MDG team as [they] are ensuring our Airmen and families are able to make our mission happen,” Vietas continued.

In addition to allowing providers to meet each other face-to-face, the 23rd MDG hosted the event to help community providers better understand the Airmen they are caring for and their varying duties. Vietas explained the physical and mental toll each job may take on an Airman. 

“By seeing some of the operations on base, the providers will get a better understanding of what we do so they can better prepare for the Airmen [who] are sent to them,” said 2nd Lt. Kristina Friley, Tricare operations and patient administration flight. “This will allow them to plan their recovery and treatment based on what the Airman’s job entails. An Airman [who] is on flying status or carries a weapon may have medication restrictions or may need an expedited treatment plan in order to remain deployable.”

In addition to explaining the various needs of members on base, Vietas educated the providers about the medical processes that are necessary for active duty members, including information about the medical evaluation board, or MEB.

“While the network providers don’t have a say in the MEB process, their notes and recommendations for whether an Airman will be able to rehabilitate or not can have a huge impact on the Airman’s career,” Friley said. “Before coming here, some of the providers may not have even known what an MEB is. We want them to understand how serious the process is for our Airmen and encourage them to remain neutral throughout an Airman’s treatment.”

This education proved to be beneficial to network providers in attendance, according to Dr. Hitham Khalil, community medical provider.

“When I see a member from Moody, [there are] always questions that come up that I’m not so sure how to handle,” Khalil said. “It’s very helpful to be able to see the providers that are sending us these referrals, so that I can understand the military process and what the base providers are looking for in regards to the treatment of their Airmen.”

Throughout the collaboration, Vietas explained to the network providers what the base requests of them and accepted feedback as to what base providers could do to smooth out our ability to work as a team. 

“We pride ourselves in sharing how [our network providers] are a phenomenal support for us in the community,” Vietas said. “We hope that this collaboration allows [them] to gain an appreciation for what they are enabling our Airmen to do. Their team is a critical piece to achieving our mission.”