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Medical group keeps troops 'fit to fight'
Tech. Sgt. Shaheem Quarterman, 376th Expeditionary Medical Group laboratory technician, draws blood from Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Butler, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain, at Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Jan. 4, 2013. In addition to laboratory services, the TCM medical clinic offers the following services: primary care medicine, aerospace medicine, immunizations, mental health, dental, public health, bioenvironmental engineering, radiology and pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Rubi)
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Medical group keeps troops 'fit to fight'

Posted 1/4/2013   Updated 1/4/2013 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Martinez
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/4/2013 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan  -- It's the height of the cold and flu season, and Airmen assigned to the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group are working to keep the force 'fit to fight.'

The medical group's mission is to deliver quality medical care 24/7 to U.S. and coalition forces to optimize and sustain warrior performance while fostering enduring relationships with host nation partners. Their day-to-day focus is on serving a population of approximately 1,500 permanent party personnel and 2,000 transient members.

"We see approximately 30 to 100 patients a day," said Capt. Melinda Rovan, 376th EMDG chief nurse. That averages out to be about 1,500 patents a month.

Most of the patients at the clinic are seen for joint pain, minor injuries, and the common cold. Over the last few weeks, there has been an increase in the number of patients coming in with cold symptoms such a runny nose, sore throat and cough.

"We recommend people take the following steps to prevent the cold and flu this season: wash hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cover mouth when coughing and sneezing and social distancing - staying away from sick people," Rovan said.

For those who follow these precautionary steps, yet still manage to get sick, the medical group staff can help. The expeditionary group provides many of the same medical services available at home station - primary care medicine, aerospace medicine, immunizations, mental health services, dental services, public health, bioenvironmental engineering, laboratory, radiology and pharmacy services.

Additionally, the medical group manages an emergency blood donor program that is used in the event of a mass casualty or trauma.

"The program almost works the same as it does home station with the screening process," said Tech. Sgt. Shaheem Quarterman, 376th EMDG laboratory technician. "The only difference is we don't draw the unit (of blood) right away because we don't need it and we're limited on storage."

When the blood is needed, Quarterman contacts the pre-screened donors on his roster and the blood is then drawn. Donors with O negative blood types are always needed, since that is the universal donor, but Quarterman said he is always looking for donors of every type. He prefers to maintain a roster with 30 to 40 donors.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Butler, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain, recently visited the clinic to add his name to the list of rosters and have his blood pre-screened.

"There were saying they can always use blood, so I wanted to come and give - it's an easy thing to do to save a life," said Butler, who was also at the clinic to receive current immunizations. "(The staff here has) been great in taking care of me."

While the clinic can provide many of the basic services as a home-station clinic, there are limitations in a deployed environment.

"In an expeditionary environment, we are faced with challenges in our limited radiology capabilities and laboratory tests, as well as the limiting factor of not being able to follow-up with our transient patients," Rovan said. "We have worked to mitigate the lab and X-ray limitation by developing and using blanket purchase agreements with local Kyrgyz medical facilities. The lack of follow-up with our transient patients is still a challenge for us."

Transients or permanent party, the medical group is here to serve you and offers the following list of top five ways to stay healthy while at the Transit Center:

1. Take time when walking to reduce falls
2. Exercise in moderation
3. Wear proper clothing outside and take breaks from cold weather
4. Always stay up-to-date on immunizations
5. Come see us; we are open 24/7

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