Air Force’s second-largest medical center delivers premier care

  • Published
  • By Sarah Amato
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The 88th Medical Group remains on the cutting edge of health care services and technology as a role model for other military medical centers worldwide.

As host unit of the Air Force’s second-largest hospital, 88 MDG delivers multiple services ranging from emergency care and human performance to mental health and nutritional resources. With a staff of 2,200, Wright-Patterson Medical Center “dominates the dirty work” to ensure the installation’s Airmen are fit and ready to deploy at any time.

“Wright-Patterson has a long history throughout the Air Force Medical Service,” said Col. Dale Harrell, 88 MDG commander. “We have always been known as a leader in health care in the Air Force and locally in the Miami Valley. Our staff wants to do what’s right for the patient, and we really do work hard to provide Ready Reliable Care.”

Among its many responsibilities, the group manages seven squadrons: the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, 88th Dental Squadron, 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron, 88th Healthcare Operations Squadron, 88th Medical Support Squadron, 88th Surgical Operations Squadron and 88th Inpatient Operations Squadron.

Utilizing more than 944,000 square feet of medical facilities, 88 MDG supports 40 clinics, four inpatient units and 57 beds. It annually handles 300,000 outpatient visits, 3,600 admissions and 405,000 lab tests, and maintains one of the Air Force’s leading graduate medical education programs.

With its mission to train, treat and teach, the group’s vision is to provide “trusted care…always,” further supporting the 88th Air Base Wing’s vision to be the “premier air base wing… one team – people driven, mission focused!”

Those mission and vision statements are supported by 88 MDG’s four priorities:

  • Ensure medically fit force
  • Build expeditionary medics
  • Lead and develop our team
  • Deliver trusted care

Always ensuring ready health care

With the constant-changing needs of the Air Force and military, 88 OMRS has identified that Airmen need available comprehensive health care to ensure they are ready and resilient at all times.

Through its support of Airmen, beneficiaries and various installation functions, 88 OMRS promotes and sustains force health, preventing injury and illness, restoring health and sustaining human performance.

“One of the biggest things that we do is to ensure that our Airmen across the base are mentally and physically ready to execute their missions in both garrison and deployed locations,” said Lt. Col. Jason Glitz, 88 OMRS commander, who will transition to his next assignment this summer.

The squadron oversees seven flights, including Aerospace and Operational Medicine, Bioenvironmental Engineering, Mental Health, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Public Health, Optometry and the Warrior Operational Medicine Clinic.

The key mission effects are accomplished at the unit level through effective management of six major aerospace medicine programs: flying and special duty operations, occupational and environmental health, force-health readiness, community health, human-performance sustainment, and emergency response and disaster management.

With a team supported by approximately 300 staff members including military, civilian workers and contractors, 88 OMRS provides care for 67,000 eligible beneficiaries including about 6,000 active-duty patients each year.

Glitz said one of his squadron’s biggest priorities is to ensure Airmen and their beneficiaries have the ability to receive health care support when needed.

“Whether it’s seeing a medical provider when sick or a physical therapist, I want to ensure that our patients have the tools to get healthier and stronger,” he said.

Dental hygiene crucial to mission success

From extracting wisdom teeth to performing routine dental exams, 88 DS “dominates the dirty work” each day by ensuring Airmen have proper oral health to perform their missions while improving overall readiness.

“Day in and day out, our squadron works hard to make sure we provide ready, reliable and excellent dental care to our Airmen,” said Col. (Dr.) Nathan Krivitzky, 88 DS commander. “We want to help our Airmen fly, fight and win to make sure they are dentally ready and do not have any dental issues to worry about.”

As the Air Force’s seventh-largest dental treatment facility, 88 DS is comprised of four flights, including Clinical Dentistry, Dental Support, Base Dental Laboratory and Dental Residency. The staff includes more than 90 personnel comprised of active duty, civilians and contractors.

Among its core duties, the squadron works to ensure every Airmen receives a dental examination annually while treating those routine and emergency conditions that require further work.

While designated an active-duty dental clinic, 88 DS does treat military beneficiaries over age 5 on a space-available basis.

The clinic treats about 100 patients each day and 6,200 patients annually while performing 136,000 procedures with its lab performing 15,230 procedures every year.

Krivitzky said he continues to develop the squadron to become a model for similar Air Force dental clinics.

“I want other dental clinics in the Air Force to say, ‘Hey, look at what Wright-Patt’s doing there… We need to be like Wright-Patt,’” he added. “That’s my vision.” 

Ancillary services key

As the medical group’s backbone of ancillary services, 88 DTS delivers comprehensive medical laboratory, nutritional medicine, pharmacy and radiology services to 67,000 eligible and 36,000 enrolled beneficiaries.

“We are here to support our hospital’s mission to keep the warfighter healthy along with their beneficiaries,” said Col. Stacey Van Orden, 88 DTS commander. “From filling prescriptions and performing necessary critical laboratory analyses to teaching diabetes classes and helping our patients learn better nutritional techniques, 88 DTS is here to help our warfighters and family members remain healthy and resilient.”

Through two locations within the hospital’s atrium and base’s Kittyhawk area, the squadron also manages one of the busiest, state-of-the art pharmacies in the Air Force, filling 562,000 prescriptions per fiscal year.

It also operates one of three Air Force blood donor centers, supplying 2,700 blood units to U.S. Central Command for peace and wartime contingencies.

With nearly 300 staff members, the squadron also supports deployment lines, providing various services such as laboratory analyses to ensure Airmen are always ready to deploy.

Among its accomplishments, 88 DTS provides more than 935,000 lab tests, 63,000 diagnostic-imaging examinations, 170,000 meals, 4,800 inpatient and 4,300 outpatient nutritional consultations, and fills 1.1 million prescriptions each year.

Delivering family support

Serving more than 67,000 eligible and 36,000 enrolled beneficiaries, 88 HCOS provides a full scope of health care services, including internal, family and emergency medicine; pediatrics and 10 medical specialties.

“From our first responders providing prehospital care to those in need to our pediatricians and family medicine providers delivering medical care to dependents, we continue to do our part to support our service members with the peace of mind of knowing their loved ones are in good hands,” said Col. (Dr.) Kenji Takano, former HCOS commander, who recently departed Wright-Patt for a new assignment.

Supporting its mission of “ready medics-quality care,” 88 HCOS continues to focus on its vision of “building superior Airmen through training, partnerships and service.” The squadron includes approximately 350 staff members, including service members, civilian employees and contractors.  

As one of 88 MDG’s largest squadrons with four flights, 88 HCOS oversees the medical group’s primary care, pediatrics, medical services and emergency department units. The squadron also features three of the Air Force’s largest graduate medical education programs.

The squadron regularly deploys Airmen downrange to provide medical services, which Takano considers one of his unit’s biggest strengths.

Resourcing the hospital

As 88 MDG’s administrative arm, 88 MDSS ensures the day-to-day operations of the hospital while focusing on how to improve the overall patient experience.

Comprised of nearly 370 personnel and five flights, the squadron oversees Medical Information Systems, Medical Logistics and Facilities, Resource Management Office and Commander’s Support Staff, TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration, and the Medical Readiness Office.

“When you talk about dirty work, we are the ones down in the trenches ensuring that the hospital operates effectively and efficiently each day,” said Lt. Col. Damian Pardue, MDSS commander. “We exist to support the clinical side… together, we support our warfighters, their family members and the nation’s veterans.”

Among its various initiatives, 88 MDSS directs logistics, information systems, resource utilization, readiness, patient administration and all personnel functions for 88 MDG’s 2,200 staff members, as well as operations for more than 67,000 eligible beneficiaries and 36,000 enrolled beneficiaries.

It also oversaw the recent implementation of MHS GENESIS, the military’s new electronic health-record system, at Wright-Patterson Medical Center.

The squadron also manages execution of the hospital’s $132 million budget and $90 million TRICARE program. It maintains $36 million in war-reserve material, procures $118 million in services and oversees $148 million in equipment across the 944,000-square-foot hospital.

Leading the way in surgical services

While supporting one of the Air Force’s largest and busiest health care facilities, 88 SGCS provides expert and nonstop comprehensive specialty care and surgical services to 67,000 eligible and 36,000 enrolled beneficiaries, along with select Veterans Affairs patients each year.

The squadron oversees general surgery, anesthesia, pain management; ear, nose and throat; urology, plastic surgery, neurosurgery, podiatry, orthopedic, ophthalmology and women’s health services to include 10 surgical suites that support 17 surgical specialties performing 2,500 procedures per year.

“We focus on providing great care that reaches both our dependents and veterans,” said Col. (Dr.) Erik Nott, SGCS commander, who will conclude his command in July. “From staffing shortages to COVID, medical care has seen its challenges in recent years. However, we know that our biggest responsibility is providing exceptional medical care to our patients.”

With a staff of nearly 400 service members, civilian personnel and contractors, Nott considers one of 88 SGCS’s biggest successes to be his team’s ability to continue its career development. The squadron also supports graduate medical education programs in general surgery, women’s health and anesthesia.

“I am proud that our Airmen have the continued ability to grow,” said Nott, adding that some military staff members recently were accepted into the Air Force’s Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program and Air Force Academy Preparatory School.

“We have highly intelligent, highly motivated people supporting our mission here… And that is the key to our success.”

Improving the overall patient experience

As provider of the medical group’s inpatient care, 88 IPTS provides around-the-clock patient care to many of its sickest and more vulnerable patients.

“We are here 24/7 to be of assistance to our patients during their times of need,” said Col. Sarah Martin, 88 IPTS commander. “Every day has challenges, but with the dedication of our Airmen and staff, we continue to be successful in helping those in our care.”

With four inpatient units and 57 beds, the nearly 150-member squadron delivers comprehensive medical, surgical, OB-GYN and intensive care inpatient services to 39,000 service members and beneficiaries, along with select VA patients.

The squadron supports six graduate medical education programs, 13 surgical with 12 medical specialties, homeland defense and deployment platforms.

Executing a $6.9 million budget, it also manages 2,000 hospital admissions, 4,500 bed days and more than 200 infant deliveries each year.

Paving way into the future

As the 88th Medical Group continues achieving mission success, it is focusing on future efforts to help ensure its patients receive the best medical care.

Among his top initiatives, Harrell looks forward to expanding current medical partnerships with area hospitals, further strengthening the graduate medical education program and implementation of MHS GENESIS, which he feels will boost the overall patient experience.

“We touch multiple people in every aspect of their lives from newborn to elderly to retirees,” Harrell said. “People seek medical care with us because they know we give the best medical care and they love the current military health care system. Medical care can be complex or simple, but it can also be safe, dirty work. We keep that mission going and we ensure readiness.”