JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The 628th Medical Group at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina will introduce two new squadrons, starting with the 628th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, June 28, 2019, followed by the Health Care Operations Squadron, July 26, 2019.
The changes will occur at every medical group across the Air Force and will help medical units focus on the readiness of Airmen. The change was formally directed by then Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein in their Medical Reform Memo Feb. 11, 2019.
The 628th Aerospace Medical Squadron, will become the 628th OMRS, with its mission shifting to the exclusive care of active duty Airmen, while the 628th Medical Operations Squadron will become the 628th HCOS, which will focus on retirees and dependents.
“We’re basically reorganizing, creating a clinic that will see only active duty troops and one that will see non-active duty patients such as dependents and retirees,” said Lt. Col. Scott LeBlanc, 628th MDG chief nurse. “There was a model tried at Mountain Home [Air Force Base, Idaho] and it proved it was better suited to maintain active duty readiness by getting quicker medical evaluation boards done, faster return to duty and better care.”
Although the process will take time to fully employ, small changes have already been implemented, which LeBlanc said should have no ill effect on JB Charleston or its Airmen.
“We’ve started the process now, beginning with primary care manager changes,” said LeBlanc. “Patients will be getting new doctors, but they won’t see a change in level of care. It should be seamless for our Airmen.”
Lt. Col. Christine Smetana, 628th MDOS commander, will be the commander of the 628th OMRS after the name change. She sees the new system taking a page from flight medicine’s book to help things run smoothly.
“Flight medicine has several good processes that family medicine has tried to emulate but couldn’t without the same kind of repetition seeing the same kinds of patients,” said Smetana. “By making this switch, it will really help our medical team and our Airmen.”
With the restructuring of the MDG, not only will processes improve, but the Air Force and Air Mobility Command’s missions should also be more easily met, said Col. Brian Musselman, 628th MDG commander.
“Reforming our medical groups’ organizational structure enhances the Air Force’s ability to proactively manage total force medical care,” said Musselman. “It will improve personnel availability and rapidly restore readiness, deployability and force lethality. The level of care patients receive will not change, however, the way we deliver care will.”