88th Healthcare Operations Squadron’s vast duties provides mass care for beneficiaries

  • Published
  • By Darrius Parker
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – In support of the Air Force’s second largest hospital, the 88th Healthcare Operations Squadron serves more than 36,000 enrolled beneficiaries providing a full scope of health care services, including internal, family and emergency medicine, pediatrics and numerous medical specialties.

With a staff of more than 500 personnel supporting war-fighting operations worldwide, which is the largest in the 88th Medical Group, the 88 HCOS prioritizes family-oriented care for everybody who walks through their doors.

“The mission we have is really quite large, but it’s all about being a team player and contributing to the medical group overall,” said Lt. Col. Eldon Palmer, 88 HCOS commander.

The squadron also features three of the Air Force’s largest medical education graduate programs: emergency medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine.

“Our graduate programs provide residents and interns who graduated from med school the opportunity to become independently practiced physicians by gaining experience through research, inpatient and outpatient service, and by spending time in different types of emergencies,” he said. “I was a pediatric resident from 2006 to 2009, so I’m happy to give back for the education and breadth of experience I received.”

Family Medicine

The family medicine section provides non-emergent outpatient medical care to enrolled adults and geriatric beneficiaries that are 18 or older. This group of seven active-duty Airmen and four civilian contractors can provide treatment of acute illness and injuries, ongoing disease management, preventive services, physical exams, check enrolled beneficiary’s blood pressure with no appointment necessary, and provide injections such as B12 and Depo-Provera.

On average, each civilian and active-duty medic from family medicine can see close to 20 patients per day, which in total would have the entire office seeing close to 200 patients per day.

“Our duties can range from scheduling patients for appointments, medication refills, or just filling out paperwork,” said Staff Sgt. Cindy Sandoval, family health medical technician.

Sandoval went on to explain the importance of what they do.

“We want to make sure that family members are taken care of and that our military members have confidence that even when they deploy, they know that they can leave and their families are in good hands,” she said. 

Internal Medicine

This group of 36 staff members provide primary care to adults and the chronically ill, addressing issues such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary disease, adjustment disorders, memory loss and arthritis. They can also provide prescription and non-prescription medication, assistance with dieting, exercise and activity counseling.

At any given time, the internal medicine clinic can hold more than 40 patients with a need for direct care.

“We tend to usually get a lot of veterans as patients, specifically those who are in need of closer observation due to their medical conditions,” said Senior Airman Mariska Oosterhof, internal medicine medical technician. “For me, it’s always an honor to care for our veterans because we get to give back to them for what they did for us.”

Emergency Medicine

The 24/7 emergency department treats patients of all age groups that qualify as active-duty, dependents, retirees, retiree spouses, and family of retirees. They also run the 24/7 911 operations for Area A, B and the Properties at Wright Field housing outside of the base.

Patients who enter the emergency department can be seen based on the severity of their illness or injury to include loss of life, limb, or eyesight. In order to see more patients in a shorter amount of time, the ER has also created an urgent care within their section.

“On an average day, our ER receives patients as they come and we aim to get them out the door as quickly as possible with the best care possible,” said Staff Sgt. Breana Fitzwater, emergency room paramedic. “On the EMS side of the house, we can either have no calls throughout the day or seven, which can turn into a very fast-paced day.”


With ten personnel on their staff, pediatrics can provide acute, chronic and preventive medicine care for patients ranging from newborn to 13 years old in the general pediatrics clinic. There is also an adolescent clinic that can provide care to patients 13 to 23 years old.

By referral only, patients can receive sub-specialty care in neurology, cardiology or developmental pediatrics.

“I work in the subspecialty side, so we mainly work with youth who have special needs such as autism, down syndrome, ADHD, and other developmental disorders,” said Airman 1st Class Ainsley Burlingame, pediatrics developmental licensed vocational nurse. “What’s really cool about our section is that we can travel to the patient’s houses and work with them while they are at home. This allows the parents to interact with the kids, which can help with the work that we do.”

Medical Specialties

For patients that are eligible beneficiaries and interested in specialty care, the medical specialties that are present at the Wright-Patt Medical Center medical specialties flight include cardiology, coumadin, dermatology, infectious disease/travel, dialysis, endocrinology, nephrology, neurology, pulmonary, respiratory therapy services, rheumatology, sleep medicine and urology.

“Because we have quite a few specialties within our flight, we have a broad range of capabilities,” said Tech. Sgt. Sabra Hay, respiratory care practitioner and medical specialty section chief. “Additionally, our staff is able to utilize multiple local facilities through teaching agreements, to assist our local community while gaining access to higher acuity patients at a higher volume.”

Squadron Ideology

The squadron executes a total operating budget of $40 million and delivers 262,000 outpatient visits annually. They are poised to support not only homeland defense, but also always has on an average 12 members deployed in support of contingency operations.

Palmer came on as commander of the 88 HCOS on May 31 of this year and believes in leading the squadron to assist in supporting the larger Air Force mission in any way possible.

“My predecessor did a great job with moving forward and coming out of COVID 19, and I just want to continue to build on that,” he said.

Not only is Palmer focused on bettering the mission but bettering his personnel as well.

“Personal development is a big goal of mine,” he said. “I want my Airmen to always have the ability to possess three things: for people to feel like they can bloom where they’re planted; they can lift where they stand; and that they can go where they’re needed.”

The mentality of the Airmen within the squadron are of caring for their patients to the best of their ability and ensuring that dependents of deployed military members are taken care of. There is no shortage of care at the Wright-Patt Medical Center, and the 88 HCOS embodies this ideology.   

For more information regarding the services that are provided and eligibility for each service please visit https://wrightpatterson.tricare.mil/. The hours for the Wright-Patt Medical center are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The medical center, with the exception of the emergency room, also closes at noon for training exercises the first Thursday of each month.