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As seasons change, so does the medical center

Key differences between COVID-19 and Influenza in accordance with Ohio Health Department Guidelines

Key differences between COVID-19 and Influenza in accordance with Ohio Health Department Guidelines. U.S. AIR FORCE GRAPHIC/David Clingerman

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - With winter making its way toward Ohio, COVID-19 standing firm and flu season just around the corner, the Wright-Patterson Medical Center is implementing some changes to better serve its beneficiaries.

Pharmacy operations
Since March, the 88th Medical Group pharmacy has proven how innovative it can be. In order to continue to provide all benefits, the Kittyhawk Pharmacy will return to pre-COVID operations and service structure beginning Nov. 2.

You will be still be serviced in the drive-thru, but pharmacy staff will return to utilizing Kittyhawk for refills and off-base provider prescriptions only. Base partners have provided volunteers to keep traffic moving and help serve patients directly in their cars, but as they return to their own missions, the Kittyhawk Pharmacy is adapting once again.

Patients can improve their Kittyhawk drive-thru experience by requesting providers send all noncontrolled prescriptions electronically (DOD Wright-Patterson EPHCY) and then calling 937-656-1656 to activate these medications prior to arrival.

The hospital’s Atrium Pharmacy will now provide medications for any patient who receives a prescription after having a telephone or virtual appointment. To pick up prescriptions, you may go directly to the Atrium pharmacy after 9 a.m. the following duty day. There is no need to call to activate these medications. Urgent, same-day needs can be addressed by activating your prescription in-person using the Atrium kiosk after a virtual visit.

If you visit the hospital for an appointment, you will still utilize the Atrium Pharmacy.  Simply check in using the kiosks after the appointment to pick up any new prescriptions.

These changes will allow for quicker processing times and next duty-day prescription pickup, medical group officials said. It will also decrease Kittyhawk drive-thru traffic.

As a reminder, Atrium Pharmacy hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Kittyhawk hours are the same, with extended service until 6 p.m. for pickup only. The pharmacies are not open on weekends, federal holidays or AFMC family days.  In addition, both pharmacies close at noon on 88th Medical Group training days, which typically occur the first Thursday of each month.

COVID-19 testing and ILI Clinic
A process change for COVID-19 testing also is being established, along with a separate clinic to serve patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

COVID-19 site testing was moved to a stationary trailer across from the hospital parking lot. Follow signs to the tall, green entrance banners. Testing hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, excluding all federal holidays, AFMC family days and medical group training afternoons.

Another significant change is all individuals must have an order in the system, or handwritten provider’s order, to receive a COVID-19 test at the site. After Nov. 1, walkup symptomatic patients will not be tested without prior approval.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, contact the WPMC appointment line (937-522-2778) to schedule a virtual appointment. 

If you had an appointment and were instructed by a Med Group provider to report to the trailer for testing, follow these guidelines:

  • In fair weather, use the parking-lot directions for drive-thru testing (rear of the trailer). 
  • In cold/inclement weather, park on the trailer’s south side (closest to Sugar Maple Drive), and check in through the southern door.
  • If no rooms are available during check-in, you will be asked to wait in your vehicle until the next room is clean and available for patient testing.
  • Ensure you provide a good phone number and description of your vehicle.

Any patient not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but needing a test also requires an appointment (exception: Tier 4 surveillance testing).

If you’ve been contacted by a WPMC provider/specialist or for a procedure but did not receive an appointment date/time for your COVID-19 test, contact the WPMC appointment line at 937-522-2778 to schedule it.

Examples: Pre-procedural patients who may require testing to return to work (medical personnel, security forces, base fire department/first responders and Child Development Center staff), or asymptomatic patients contacted by the Public Health Office to complete COVID-19 testing due to contact tracing.

Any patient who’s been exposed but not directed by a public health office (Med Group or state) should contact their base provider through the appointment line. Wright-Patterson personnel not assigned to a primary care manager should contact Occupational Medicine (937-255-4809, option 2) for testing determination and scheduling, if necessary.

In preparation for influenza season, the 88th Medical Group has created an ILI (Influenza-Like Illness) Clinic, which utilizes telephone and virtual appointments.

After scheduling a visit via the WPMC appointment line (937-522-2778), patients should remain self-quarantined in their residence and await a provider’s call to discuss symptoms and a care plan.

Lab specimen collection

In order to alleviate wait times and overcrowding, the Lab Specimen Collection Flight is moving to an appointment-based system.

Laboratory services are currently on a walk-in basis and demand is difficult to predict. Coupled with a small waiting area, overcrowding puts patients at risk for exposure to easily transmitted viruses.

By moving to an appointment system, daily operations are more predictable, with improvements to patient wait time and safety.

The new process will begin Nov. 16. Once lab orders are entered after meeting with a PCM or other provider, call the appointment line at 937-522-2778 to schedule your lab appointment. Same-day lab orders and urgent will still be accommodated.

Hours for specimen collection are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The lab expects full implementation of this new process by Jan. 4.