36th MDG Lends a Helping Hand
By Senior Airman Michael Murphy, 36th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 21, 2020
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
The newly graduated Airman 1st Class had just arrived at her new and first duty station, Andersen Air Force Base. She had come from Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, and graduated as an aerospace medical technician. Two months later, COVID-19 appeared on the island of Guam.
“We had briefly talked about severe acute respiratory syndrome in tech school,” said Airman 1st Class Zena Meriza Greer, 36th Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS) family health technician. “We didn’t go deeply into it. So the fact that I come here and that is what’s happening… It’s kind of shocking.”
Greer also said that coming here and tackling this pandemic has shown her the importance of the small work herself and other medical technicians are doing when treating patients, like taking swabs, donning personal protective equipment, or taking vitals.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 on Guam, the Andersen Medical Clinic has adjusted their hours and procedures for the benefit of the base and retirees. The Andersen Medical Clinic has opened its doors on Saturdays from 7-10 a.m. for retirees. This extra day to be open provides retirees an approach to receive medical care without worrying about being around a large number of other patients, who mostly come during the week.
"The biggest factor we were trying to protect was the retirees, because they are going to be at most risk," said Capt. Everlino Ramos, 36th MDOS family health physician assistant. "We want to make sure that we still have care for them, but we make sure to isolate them as far as the care that we provide them."
Saturdays at the medical clinic have at least one provider and teams for the pharmacy, family health technicians, the clinical lab for blood work, and Airmen from the dental squadron who man the entry control point (ECP).
"Patients have definitely been taking advantage of this," Ramos said. "We have patients getting their needs filled."
The medical clinic has also been conducting weekly virtual visits for patients who are not able to come during the week. Ramos said that most patient's needs can be met during a 20-30-minute virtual appointment over the phone, but they are still aware that some may need to come in for a physical appointment and schedule them for Saturday.
Ramos also commented on the increase in tempo for the medical group. About 2-3 patients end up needing to come in on Saturday for a physical checkup, but almost everyone who had a virtual appointment will most likely make their way to the clinic on Saturday to do blood work or go to the pharmacy.
The work centers complete what they would normally do throughout the week in a single day, so that retirees have less exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, the medical group is augmenting Airmen to the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS), which consist of 11 medical units. EMEDS can require almost 70 or more Airmen from the medical clinic to help if needed.
The Andersen Medical Clinic is not deterred from the increase of responsibility though, and are willing to adjust for the benefit of those in need.
"The medical group is proud to extend our hours of operations to continue to provide care to all our empaneled patients," Ramos said.
Ramos also commented that if you have a virtual appointment, that an updated list of current medication helps the process of the appointment, and to also be flexible with time. Ramos recommends making time up to 20 minutes prior and after your appointment for flexibility since some appointments may take longer.
If you want to make an appointment, you can do so by calling 366-WELL.