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14th Medical Group’s care keeps Airmen flying high

Lt. Col. Hanling Joswick, 14th Medical Group dentist, poses for a photo May 2, 2018 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The dental clinic on Columbus AFB works to keep the dental health of every beneficiary in the best condition possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Lt. Col. Hanling Joswick, 14th Medical Group dentist, poses for a photo May 2, 2018 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The dental clinic on Columbus AFB works to keep the dental health of every beneficiary in the best condition possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Maj. Tom Koritz was one of 42 pilots in Undergraduate Pilot Training class 82-01 that earned their silver wings in October 1982 at Columbus AFB, Miss. and the first pilot physician that went through pilot training as a doctor first. In 2008 the Koritz Clinic was named in honor of Maj. Tom Koritz after he was shot down during the second night of combat in operation Desert Storm in 1991. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Maj. Tom Koritz was one of 42 pilots in Undergraduate Pilot Training class 82-01 that earned their silver wings in October 1982 at Columbus AFB, Miss. and the first pilot physician that went through pilot training as a doctor first. In 2008 the Koritz Clinic was named in honor of Maj. Tom Koritz after he was shot down during the second night of combat in operation Desert Storm in 1991. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Master Sgt. Latoria Mathis, 14th Medical Group noncommissioned officer in-charge of the immunization clinic, has her vitals checked May 1, 2018 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 14th Medical Group’s goal on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, is to keep every pilot, every Airman, and every family member healthy and ready for the other challenges life with throw their way. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Master Sgt. Latoria Mathis, 14th Medical Group noncommissioned officer in-charge of the immunization clinic, has her vitals checked May 1, 2018 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 14th Medical Group’s goal on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, is to keep every pilot, every Airman, and every family member healthy and ready for the other challenges life with throw their way. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Second Lt. Edison Millan, 14th Student Squadron student pilot and augmented pharmaceutical assistant, May 1, 2018 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 14th Medical Group and every group on Columbus AFB has the help of lieutenants who are waiting for their training to start, they fill positions to assist Airman in day to day unclassified operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Second Lt. Edison Millan, 14th Student Squadron student pilot and augmented pharmaceutical assistant, speaks to a patient May 1, 2018 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 14th Medical Group and every group on Columbus AFB has the help of lieutenants who are waiting for their training to start, they fill positions to assist Airman in day to day unclassified operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

The 14th Medical Operations Squadron provides and coordinates comprehensive healthcare for a community of 8,000 active duty, retired and family member DoD beneficiaries. The squadron also has the responsibility for preventive, integrated health care through public health, bioenvironmental engineering, optometry and health & wellness activities for Columbus AFB. The squadron consist of eight flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

The 14th Medical Operations Squadron provides and coordinates comprehensive healthcare for a community of 8,000 active duty, retired and family member DoD beneficiaries. The squadron also has the responsibility for preventive, integrated health care through public health, bioenvironmental engineering, optometry and health & wellness activities for Columbus AFB. The squadron consist of eight flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- There are many stressors throughout a pilot’s career and being unable to fly because of a stuffy nose and a sneeze can cause a student to be pushed back if left untreated.

The 14th Medical Group’s goal on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, is to keep every pilot, every Airman, and every family member healthy and ready for the other challenges life with throw their way.

“We provide trusted care to beneficiaries, retirees, all active-duty members and their family,” said Staff Sgt. Kelly Pope, 14th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician. “We make sure individuals are taken care of to continue the pilot training mission every day.”

Through patient care, Pope sees those who are in need of care or have a check-up and completes administrative work, so when the doctor sees them, they will be fully prepared to efficiently examine the patient and diagnose issues correctly to get the individual back into the fight.

“The leadership here are always working to find better ways to treat everyone that needs it,” Pope said. “Recently, we’ve implemented some changes that allow us to see more patients and overall has increase our access to care.”

Alongside patient care the dental clinic is essential for student pilots and their families to be in good health.

The lack of dental health can stop a pilot from training just as fast as an illness, so the dental flight works consistently to complete x-rays and dental check-ups or cleanings with new and high quality tools.

Large quantities of medical equipment can not show up on its own, the 14th Medical Support Squadron works to make sure each flight is equipped correctly for any situation.

“We can’t have one flight without the other,” Pope said. “Without supplies we can’t see patients. Without ancillary services, we wouldn’t have the overall picture of the patient’s health. They all work together to paint the bigger picture and help take care of the people at Columbus AFB.”

The team effort and community in the group has an effect on everyone in the group.

“I enjoy seeing all my medical personnel within the group be ready and have everything they need to take a patient from sick and unable to perform their duty to better than before,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Irvin, 14th MDOS noncommissioned officer in-charge of medical logistics warehouse. “It’s rewarding for everyone to see the group working together to make someone go from feeling bad to feeling great again.”

One of the biggest challenges for the 14 MDG is maximizing access to care despite the fact that multiple services are staffed by only one to two people. Additionally, due to the unique specialized training required for those careers, the group is unable to simply shift personnel from one duty section to another to cover the gap or vacancy.

“We overcome the manning challenge through effective communication, careful management and forecasting to optimize our availability during extended absences such as permanent change of stations, leave and temporary duty assignments,” said Col. Guy Majkowski, 14th MDG Commander. “We leverage all the tools in the tool-box to meet our customer's needs including the use of non-enrolled medical officers, manning assist, contract gap fills, and creative scheduling.”

The mission the 14th MDG will continue through any challenge, with hundreds of student pilots moving onto or out of Columbus AFB, it is no small task. This hard work has placed the 14h MDG at the top of a few major achievements in the past year.

“Over the past year, our team received Air Education and Training Command-level awards in the areas of Superior Access to Care, Patient Safety Program of the Year and Aerospace & Operational Physiology Theodore Von Karmen Team of the Year,” Majkowski said. “Additionally, the 14th MDG also received defense department recognition in the category for Advancement toward High Reliability in Healthcare Improved Access Award. The 14 MDG is blessed with incredibly talented and mission-focused staff members who are dedicated to providing safe, effective, and efficient care for our beneficiaries.”

Majkowski said they will be working on bringing more state-of-the-art capabilities to our beneficiaries focused on improving health, wellness and human performance in the coming future and he is ultimately grateful for the privilege to deliver trusted care to those Airmen and families who depend on our services.

From the 14th MDG as a whole: “We are proud to be your BLAZE Medics!”