SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Medical group commanders, aeromedical squadron commanders and superintendents from across Air Mobility Command gathered here May 22 to 23, 2017 to learn how to improve care within their military treatment facilities.
“It is about a change in culture,” said Brig. Gen. Lee Payne, AMC surgeon general. “The Air Force Medical Service has always been centered on putting the patient’s needs first, but another goal is zero harm — harm of our patients and staff.”
Zero harm is in reference to improving safety and reducing the amount of accidents and mishaps at MTF’s assigned to AMC.
“Health care is local,” said Col. Guillermo Tellez, AMC deputy surgeon general. “Every MTF, like a wing, is unique and has its own challenges. Everyday Airmen are learning and sharing experiences in the hopes that in the near future we will have zero harm rate. The last thing we would want is an accidental needle prick, a hand being cut with a scalpel, or a patient slipping on wet floor in clinic. These are things we need to be conscious about.”
This conference provided AMC SG leadership an opportunity to learn about each wing’s best practices. While at the conference Payne encouraged the physicians and medical experts who gathered from across AMC to have conversations about their processes, successes and mishaps.
During the conference each wing briefed an example of their MTF’s best practice. Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst highlighted how they are realigning appointment times to meet patient demands.
Col. Therese Bohusch, 319th MDG commander at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, said this is one best practice she plans to bring back to her community.
“I want to make sure we address this because if we identify we don’t have a demand for appointments for example, on Monday at 7:30 a.m., then we could give our staff time for training and offer appointments to patients when they want them,” said Bohusch.
For Bohusch, as a commander one of her priorities when it comes to improving care is ensuring patients have viable access to care.
“Patients have to have an appointment to tell a physician what is wrong,” she said. “If they can’t get an appointment, then their doctor can’t help them or build that trust. That is why access to care is so important.”
Part of improving care also includes training members to provide the care patients need. Payne encourages Airmen to ask questions when they don’t know what trainers are talking about or ask for a physician to explain why they are doing something a certain way.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to reduce harm and improve access to care but it won’t be possible unless members have the courage to speak up,” said Payne. “Don’t let rank be a barrier because asking a question may be the solution to preventing harm.”