All U.S. Military Medical Departments Under DHA
by U.S. Service Kirstin Grace-Simons
Madigan Army Medical Center
January 12, 2022
medical departments of the service branches are coming together
under the Defense Health Agency, a joint, integrated Combat Support
Agency ... that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical
services to provide a medically ready force and ready medical force
to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime
Joint operations have occurred for some
time, though. Madigan Army Medical Center’s recent onsite support of
the training tour of the 116th Medical Group out of Robins Air Force
Base in Georgia is one example.
In September 2021, 18 Reservists in total,
or about 20 percent of the unit, traveled to Madigan to partake in
this training across different sections and specialties.
Madigan’s Logistics Division got word that
it had been chosen to support the Reservists in their medical supply
management and clinical engineering training.
“We've been doing this MSR, which is
a medical skills readiness training. We do it with our sister units
over there at 62nd Med Brigade. We've been doing it for over two
years, from what I understand this is the first time we've ever done
it with the Air Force,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jojo Ada, the
noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Logistics.
training support has been a fairly constant rotation where two to
six Soldiers each quarter spend 60 to 90 days learning how to
support a large medical facility and attaining day-to-day
Maj. Colby Suttles, an emergency room physician assistant, Tech Sgt. Jessica Jimenez, a medical technician, and Maj. Rolando de Luna, an emergency room physician assistant, gather (l-r) around a computer in an emergency bay to have a look at MHS GENESIS, the DoD’s new electronic health record, at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington on September 23, 2021 during their training tour away from their Air Force Reserve unit the 116th Medical Group out of Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. (U.S. Army photo by Kirstin Grace-Simons, Madigan Army Medical Center)
Since Reserve units and the 62nd do not have a
facility they support, they don’t have the same opportunity to
develop familiarity with logistical support that those operating
day-to-day at Madigan do.
In the planning phase of this
training both Ada and John Donaho, the chief of Logistics, expected
this experience to be worthwhile.
“They'll learn all the ins
and outs of running a warehouse operation and the support of a
hospital,” said Ada. “Wherever they go, they should be prepared to
provide logistical support.”
In a deployed situation service
members can find themselves working alongside members of any branch.
Spending time training together puts them on the same page before
that situation occurs. Supporting all forms of training is old hat
“My philosophy was Madigan is a training
hospital, so we should train too in Logistics,” added Donaho.
“Coming over here, then they can actually see how the supply chain
management actually works.”
Master Sgt. Sandra Byrd is not
assigned to a role in logistics, she is in health services
administration. But, the Airman she supervises, Staff Sgt. Molly
Schaff, is a logistics technician.
Byrd came along to
increase her insight into her subordinate’s work.
the one that really is benefitting from the training, which has been
phenomenal,” said Byrd. “We learned so much, although this is not my
AFSC (air force specialty code), I’ve learned a whole lot since I’ve
been shadowing the Madigan team and their Logistics section, and I
have to say, I have enjoyed the training because we couldn’t have
gotten this in our home station.”
In the warehouse, Byrd was
a clear asset, just as Schaff was. Both were informed they might be
kept on staff at Madigan because of their aptitude. While claiming
another unit’s staff was said in jest, their help was appreciated.
The benefits of this training are mutual. Many sections are low
on staffing, making extra hands useful. The Logistics section
considers this a win-win. Other areas are just as happy to teach and
mentor while they benefit from having the Reservist professionals in
Byrd was not the only Airman eager to jump in
and develop some hands-on skills. Reservists are tapped for active
duty deployment with the expectation that they will be competent on
day one. But, they have far less time to develop that competency
than those who do these tasks on a daily basis.
“We do two
weeks of training to get our category one and category two training
accomplished for readiness because we don’t do this on a daily
basis; we come here, we get it and then we’re more ready to deploy,”
said Chief Master Sgt. Frank Bulin, the medical group’s senior
enlisted leader who was shepherding the contingent from the 116th.
The crash course these Airmen receive on ground at Madigan
is not a matter of skills introduction, but one of deepening. To
watch them work it is obvious they are talented professionals. In a
large facility like Madigan, they get the opportunity to have
interactions that are different from their everyday encounters in
their civilian lives.
“My civilian job- I do cancer medicine,
cancer surgery. So, obviously, this provides me a little more
in-depth training and experience because definitely we are tasked to
deploy downrange as PAs, we’re asked to be knowledgeable in all
types of medicine – urgent care, emergency types of medicine – and
not cancer medicine, that’s not going to be my tasking downrange,”
noted Maj. Colby Suttles, an emergency room physician assistant. “We
use these kinds of opportunities to gain the hands-on experience to
keep our skill sets up so that when we are tasked to go on an active
duty assignment that we have a general, broad knowledge of medicine,
not only what we do in the civilian side.”
Suttles and Maj.
Rolando de Luna, also an emergency room physician assistant, both
pointed out their appreciation for the ability to spend time within
a military medical setting to absorb the particular aspects of
working in a military facility versus a civilian one.
particular note for de Luna was getting a chance to work with MHS
GENESIS, the DoD’s new electronic health record.
to be the future and that’s definitely been a help to see it in
action,” said de Luna.
Aided by some fairly slow days in the
ER, Master Sgt. Charles Kinney, a medical technician which is akin
to a licensed practical nurse, has appreciated the face time he’s
had with providers.
It has been, “A little bit easier to get
more one-on-one time with providers to assist with showing us more
detailed stuff. We had an ultrasound doc in here yesterday who was
very knowledgeable and showed us every different way imaginable to
view a heart through an ultrasound,” he said.
Jessica Jimenez, also a medical technician, agreed with sentiments
and a list of duties offered by Kinney.
Asked what she
appreciated about her time in the ER at Madigan, Jimenez said, “To
brush up on your skills as well- assisting with EKGs, drawing labs,
One aspect Kinney noted that was beneficial to see at
Madigan that is lacking in his regular Reserve duties is working
with a diverse patient population. Madigan has a large retiree
population, offering an opportunity for military providers to
develop aptitude with bodies that are older than the typical service
member’s. That informs a care provider of how the body changes as it
As military medicine comes under the DHA umbrella,
members of the various branches are expected to work and train
together more. Madigan and the 116th Medical Group are developing a
relationship for excellent collaboration.
Note... Minor editing without factual
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