Air Force Surgeon General visits Malmstrom

  • Published
  • By Lauren O’Connor
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force surgeon general, and Chief Master Sgt. Dawn Kolczynski, Office of the Surgeon General medical enlisted force and enlisted corps chief, visited Malmstrom Air Force Base April 28-29, 2021.

“I’m excited to see how the medics are impacting and supporting the Malmstrom mission, combatting the pandemic and keeping our Airmen and Guardians ready,” said Hogg. “This is where rubber meets the road. I can think of ways to improve our force, but you all know it, you live it. That’s why I’m visiting Malmstrom.”

During their visit, Hogg and Kolczynski toured the 341st Medical Group facilities to learn how the medical group supports Malmstrom’s unique mission in the face of COVID-19.

Hogg and Kolczynski visited the COVID-19 testing drive-thru to witness the team’s tier 1 weekly screening in action. They also met with Airmen from other clinics in the MDG to learn how these clinics used the challenges of the coronavirus to find and incorporate best practices.

According to Maj. Sandy Salzman, 341st MDG flight surgeon, majority of the MDG’s active duty patients work directly with or in support of the intercontinental ballistic missile mission, requiring additional care under the Personnel Reliability Assurance Program. PRAP provides medical care for Airmen assigned to the Personnel Reliability Program and the Arming Use of Force Program using competent medical authorities to provide the installation’s certifying officials with real-time insight to their member’s reliability while performing sensitive operations.

With the onset of COVID-19, PRAP patients saw unpredictable work schedules, disciplined self-isolation, and extended time away from their families and support groups. The MDG clinics joined forces with security forces, operations and maintenance groups’ leadership to find best practices to keep the force as healthy as possible to keep the no-fail mission on track.

They found that a seven days on, seven days off and seven days designated to unit training prevented task fatigue, mental health stressors and physical health issues dramatically. By remaining flexible and taking the time to assess these practices, the medical group has seen a 57 percent drop in visits for anxiety and 18 percent drop for chronic pain.

Capt. Brennan Jacobs, 341st MDG pharmacist, briefed Hogg and Kolczynski on ways the pharmacy has adapted to the pandemic. The MAF kits created to support the Airmen deployed to the field are just one example. The pharmacy put together 30 boxes of over-the-counter medicines so Airmen had access to care while in a remote environment. This enabled extended deployment with readily available medications.

The pharmacy also initiated the call activation line, which enables patients to activate their prescriptions without physically coming into the lobby. This allowed the pharmacy to continue filling prescriptions without exceeding the social distancing regulations in place. Additionally, for those unable to enter the pharmacy, the activation line was a method to fill prescriptions without needing to enter the building. By working with the testing drive thru, the pharmacy was able to safely deliver prescriptions to patients while limiting exposure.

Hogg and Kolczynski recognized a few medical group Airmen whose innovations ensured Malmstrom Airmen and families received the care they needed to successfully complete the nuclear surety mission.

“It is so good to come out here and listen. I knew a little about the PRAP mission, but I know more now after my visit,” said Hogg. “I know more about your challenges and successes. I can go back to headquarters and direct improvements that will work because of you.”

The team departed Malmstrom on the 29th to continue their farewell tour as Hogg prepares for retirement.

“It was an honor having Lt. Gen. Hogg and Chief Kolczynski visit Wing One,” said Col. Russell Williford, 341st Missile Wing vice commander. “We have an incredible team of medical professionals who have been on the front lines during the pandemic, keeping our force mission-ready at all times. I’m proud that the surgeon general and chief were able to see just how special our staff here at Malmstrom is, and to see the unique challenges that a PRAP medical treatment facility successfully navigates daily.”