usa image
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 5, 2012) -- Soldiers can simplify the steps of outprocessing by keeping an eye on their individual medical readiness status through the Army's Medical Protection System, according to Fort Rucker's MEDPROS coordinator.

"This is the way we look at our Soldiers to make sure they are ready to deploy at any given time," said Marie W. McCollough, the coordinator. "Before they deploy, we make sure everything is up to date."

The system checks everything from immunizations to Periodic Health Assessments, and even dental and vision screenings, she said. Army Knowledge Online gives Soldiers access to personal information so they can make sure their information is current.

McCollough recommends Soldiers check MEDPROS at least once a week.

"They can check and see what date they had their last flight physical or physical assessment, and they can call and book their appointments before the next one is overdue," she explained.

MEDPROS monitors a Soldier's "profile" in six different categories -- physical functional capacity, upper extremities, lower extremities, hearing and ears, eyes and vision, and psychiatric. Together, the six categories are often referred to as "PULHES."

In each category, a Soldier is rated between one and four. A one rating indicates a Soldier meets all the requirements of that category. A two rating means any deficiency, such as a needed immunization, that can be corrected within 72 hours. A three means deficiencies can be corrected in more than 30 days and a four means the Soldier's status is unknown.

"The bottom line is we are trying to make sure our Soldiers are ready for anything," she said. "If they're not, we need to know why and the profiles tell us why."

Temporary profiles, recent hospitalizations, down slips, abnormal test results and certain prescriptions can all cause outprocessing to be slowed or stopped, McCollough said. It is important for Soldiers to make sure everything is "in the green" before outprocessing.

"If they wait until the last minute and something has to be addressed, they could be cancelling a plane ticket," she said, adding that a few Soldiers have had to reschedule travel plans in order to complete the MEDPROS portion of outprocessing.

A number of health administration elements, such as the PHA and the Post Deployment Health Reassessment can be partially completed online, according to McCollough. She advises Soldiers to complete everything they can before going to an appointment or asking a health care provider to sign off on the form.

A Soldier can't outprocess without the PDHRA and it is hard to get a same-day appointment, she said.

McCollough also encourages Soldiers to consider what they will be doing at their next assignment and take care of medical needs early -- especially if the next assignment is short-term.

For example, if a Soldier arrives at Fort Rucker with an expired flight physical, the start of flight school could be delayed until that Soldier can get a doctor's appointment, she said. Lyster Army Health Clinic doesn't hold appointments for people who need flight physicals or PHAs, so it can sometimes take a few days to see a doctor.

The system is intended to make sure Soldiers are healthy, she said, but MEDPROS can also help Soldiers stay healthy.

She remembers one Soldier who had a specific "deficiency" level noted on his information. The Soldier did not know the significance of it, but McCollough was able to explain how that "deficiency" meant he shouldn't take certain kinds of medication.

"If there's something that says deficiency on it, find out what it is," she said.

McCollough places a lot of responsibility for maintaining individual readiness on individual Soldiers, but that responsibility is also shared by commanders, she said. Commanders maintain responsibility for unit readiness and should ensure MEDPROS status rosters are accurate. They should also monitor Soldiers to ensure completion of required deployment-related health assessments.

"If a commander doesn't show interest in MEDPROS, the people under him won't either," she said.