FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Readiness is key for units at Fort Rucker and one program aims to help Soldiers remain ready while also reducing their time away.

Go First Class, a dental program designed to include more than one service in an appointment, seeks to improve overall readiness by streamlining dental visits, reducing time spent in the clinic and increasing time spent with the unit, according to Lt. Col. Lewis Wayt, commander of U.S. Army Dental Clinic Command.

The program potentially combines three dental appointments into one visit, reduces the waiting period for treatment and increases readiness, Wayt said.

"It's a better process," he said. "It eliminates the need for multiple appointments that take Soldiers away from their unit. Go First Class allows us to provide the cleaning, examination and sometimes initial treatment in a single visit. It allows us to take them to a higher level of readiness in a shorter period of time."

The Go First Class program is designed for permanent party Solders on post and replaces the familiar walk-in exam only system. Soldiers in need of an examination who are set to deploy soon or who have other special considerations will be handled on a case-by-case basis, he added.

However, according to Wayt, the program's overall success relies on the proactive scheduling and keeping of dental appointments.

"We [dental clinic staff] also have to be good stewards and liaisons with the units in giving them information," he said. "We must ensure they know when they [have Soldiers who] are 90 days out from [needing an examination] and who they need to send over for an appointment. Sixty days out, here's a list of people who haven't come into the clinic. Thirty days out, it is immediately important they come in now. If they wait until one week out, then we run into difficulties. [The clinic] books appointments out three weeks in advance. That Soldier could potentially be Class 4 for three weeks and the readiness of their unit drops. And what is our primary purpose here? Readiness."

According to Wayt, the goal is to ensure every Soldier within a unit is Class 1, which means the Soldiers requires no further treatment or re-evaluation for 12 months. Class 2 and 3 patients have oral conditions expected to result in oral emergencies if not treated within the next 12 months.

Go First Class seeks to ensure Soldiers labeled as Class 2-3 are brought to Class 1 readiness as quickly as possible, and to prevent Soldiers from entering Class 4, which occurs when no dental exam has been given within the last 13 months.

Brown Dental Clinic will continue to offer walk-in exams for students, as space is available, and scheduled appointments. Large groups of students must pre-arrange with Staff Sgt. Nikki Woods, dental NCO in charge, and Sandra Detommaso, readiness coordinator. Woods can be reached at 255-1507, and Detommaso at 255-3393 or 255-2367.

Brown Dental Clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. with lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Staff training takes place Thursdays from 12:15-1:30 p.m. Sick call is Mondays-Fridays from 7:40-8:40 a.m. Soldiers are asked to limit sick call visits to dental needs that cannot wait until normal business hours.

Soldiers with dental emergencies after hours may call 334-400-6099 to speak with the dentist on call. Calls to the after-hours number should be limited to dental emergencies only.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 255-3393 or 255-2367.