By Sgt. David ClemenkoDecember 11, 2015
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - The 99th Regional Support Command recently conducted their third mass medical event of the year here with nearly 1,500 Soldiers attending.
The event was part of a program created by the 99th Surgeons Office designed to help local unit commanders who want to increase their medical readiness in a short amount of time.
"Our recent mass medical event had 1,496 Soldiers attend," said Maj. Gen. Margaret W. Boor, commanding general of the Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command. "We did everything from dental exams, to PHAs (Periodic Health Assessments), to vaccinations and other things that Soldiers needed to get done."
Medical readiness continues to be a focus for the Army Reserve as well as local unit commanders.
"Medical readiness is very important," said Boor. "Not only is it something that is reportable, but if a Soldier is not healthy, then he or she is not ready to be deployed."
The mass medical events are not meant to replace the traditional LHI system that reserve Soldiers are accustomed to. These events are executed with LHI and allow Soldiers to get their needed medical care while attending battle assembly. Soldiers can still call the hotline and schedule their medical appointments through LHI but now have another option available to them.
"When we've done the three mass medical events here at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in August, October and November, we partnered with LHI," said Boor. "We are working with the units to take what is already being done through the LHI contracts and synchronizing it, coordinating it and creating economy of scale and time.
"The mass medical event lets us get a lot of Soldiers done in a very short period of time," said Boor. "It gives unit commanders the ability to make a major medical readiness impact in a very short period of time."
What kind of results?
In November, the Army Reserve's 77th Sustainment Brigade attended the mass medical event during their scheduled battle assembly weekend.
"The mass medical event helps the soldiers with medical readiness," said Staff Sgt. Vicki Neely, 77th Sustainment Brigade Surgeon NCOIC. It's a good way to make sure we capture all the Soldiers in one place instead of doing it individually with vouchers.
Prior to the mass medical event, the brigade was at 62 percent medical readiness," said Neely. "Post event, we are now at almost 80 percent."
According to past participants, the 99th RSC runs the event as if they've been doing it for years. As you walk into the building, you are greeted by a member of your unit for check-in. The 99th utilizes local unit medical staff for help coordinating paperwork and directing traffic. You are then whisked off to check in with the LHI staff where you are given a USB device with all your information, including what needs to be done based on your medical records. There is an area for vaccinations, dental (including x-ray machines, and at some events, a dental van for minor work), PHA (physical) and hearing/eye exams.
"The 99th even had staff there doing profiles," said Neely. "It was a one-stop shop."
The "big ticket" items that always give unit commanders a headache and bring down the readiness numbers are usually PHA and dental.
"For Soldiers who may not live close to a clinic or have trouble getting time off of work, these mass medical events are extremely helpful," said Neely. "The Soldiers are here at drill anyway and get all their medical done."
The nuts and bolts of the operation are the civilian nurses and doctors administering the care. They are cheerful and professional, always keeping to their values - the patients' care comes first.
"It's great to see the Soldiers and help them stay healthy and ready if they are needed for deployment," said Paula Levine, a registered nurse contracted through LHI, Levine has been serving Soldiers for over seven years and loves it.
The Soldiers are always polite and cooperative," said Levine. "It's always a pleasure to come here and work with them; it's why I love my job."
The 99th didn't leave out any details in their planning. As you finish the round-robin medical event, checking in at every station to ensure you have received all the care needed to be medically ready, your final stop is not the nurse you checked in with. Your final stop is at the temporary USO station for a cookie, soda and smile from the USO volunteers.
"We've been talking about it for a while, we have some fine tuning to do, but will be presenting this as a best practice at the upcoming Command Readiness Review with all four RSCs," said Boor.
Since inception, the total number of Soldiers processed through the mass medical events is 2,656. The next mass medical event is scheduled for Feb. 19-21 here. Registration and rosters must be received by Jan. 8. For units that are interested in participating, contact Sgt. First Class David Lovett at 609-562-1315 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Future events are scheduled for May 13-15 and Aug. 5-7 here.
With more mass medical events planned for the future here, the hope is this becomes a best practice for the Army Reserve and with "Team Dauntless" leading the way.