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irman 1st Class Nikolas Swift, 2nd Medical Group aerospace medical service technician, briefs participants of the Day in the Life of an Appointment at the 2nd Medical Group at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 27, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. | Why does it take so long to receive a doctor’s appointment? Why can’t I receive my prescriptions faster? Why can’t I receive my lab results sooner?

All of these questions and more were answered Oct. 27, 2017, when Barksdale’s 2nd Medical Group conducted a Day in the Life of an Appointment tour for a group of nominees from squadron commanders, first sergeants, squadron superintendents, and patients a part of the Patient and Family Partnership Council.

The two-hour tour consisted of trips to seven different sections inside the group. A few of these sections included Family Heath, Radiology, and the Pharmacy.

“This was a walkthrough of the process from when you schedule an appointment to when you leave your appointment,” said Lt. Col. David Walmsley, 2nd Medical Operations Squadron commander.

The purpose of the tour was to connect with the group of attendees to allow them to get a better understanding of the ins and outs of the medical clinic and give them a new patient perspective.

“I need to understand medical operations through the patient’s perspective,” said Lt. Col. Kathy Savell, 2nd MDG chief nurse. “That’s what this event gave me.”

One of the biggest issues the clinic has is wait times. This is due to low manning, which causes most of the delays in services.

“The medical group is currently 72 percent manned. The doctors themselves are only 33 percent manned,” said Airman 1st Class Nikolas Swift, 2nd MDG aerospace medical service technician. “We see around 80 to 100 patients a day depending on staffing. We have the potential to see around 1,000 patients a week, but with our current situation we are only seeing around 500 a week.”

Prescriptions must go through a process before being received by the patient. That is where most of the delays with prescriptions come from.

“To begin the process we have to verify the patient’s information,” said Senior Airman Kelsey Bachmeier, 2nd MDG pharmacy technician. “Once everything has been verified it goes to the pharmacists to be checked for aspects such as proper supply, label instructions, and possible interactions with other medications already being taken. Basically, we ensure everything checks out right with the medication to ensure the patient’s safety. After it is approved, it is ready for pick-up.”

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The Family Health section also highlighted the importance of using TRICARE online and MiCare for actions such as checking lab results, setting up appointments, and the quickest way to talk to your medical provider.

“MiCare secure messaging allows you to refill medication without having to come in, set up appointments without dealing with the appointment line over the phone, and receive a response from your medical provider within 24 hours,” said Airman 1st Class Kevin Dean, 2nd MDG aerospace medical service technician. “TRICARE online allows you to check radiology results, certain lab results, and all your active medications. All without having to step foot inside the building.”

MiCare secure messaging can be found at www.relayhealth.com and TRICARE online can be found at www.tricareonline.com.

This tour with the 2nd MDG and their day to day operations produced positive feedback from the attendees.

“I thought it was very worthwhile, especially from a spouse perspective,” said Sarena Langston, 2nd Security Forces Squadron key spouse mentor and attendee. “Being able to have this inside look at everything really helped me learn a lot.”

Plans for another event are slated to take place around the beginning of January. Locations for this next event may take place in the Aerospace Medicine section and dental.

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Chris Huber is the managing editor at the Rapid City Journal.