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Taking care of our community: Family practice streamlines McChord patient process

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 62nd Medical Operations Squadron's family practice clinic has several methods in place to fine-tune its processes and programs in order to better serve its patients. 

Through offering diabetes counseling classes, utilizing independent duty medical technicians and staffing a women's nurse practitioner, the family practice clinic is making it possible to see more patients on a daily basis and give each the specialized care they require, said flight commander Lt. Col. Jennifer Mercier, 62nd MDOS. 

The clinic sees servicemembers, retirees and dependents needing care for everything from acute all the way to chronic illnesses, Colonel Mercier said. 

It also performs biopsies, vasectomies and minor surgical procedures and conducts active duty annual physicals, she said. 

The diabetes classes offer the chance for patients to participate in a group dynamic and ask questions and talk about the disease and then sit down with their provider for a short appointment, said assistant group practice manager Staff Sgt. Delena Jones, 62nd Medical Support Squadron. 

Sitting in on the group discussion is a pharmacist, an optometrist and a psychologist to offer advice to the patients, Sergeant Jones said. 

"It works well for the patients because they have an educational piece to it and then the physical piece with their provider," she said. 

Since the patients meet with their providers at the end of the class, it opens up the rest of the schedule for other providers to see other patients, Colonel Mercier said. 

The help of independent duty medical technicians -- active duty Airmen with specialized training -- is also assisting the clinic in streamlining its processes for patients. 

IDMTs see patients before the providers to help diagnose the ailment and then discuss the findings with the provider. The provider oversees and signs off on the plan of care, Colonel Mercier said. 

"It takes a lot of the assessment part out so providers can take more time with more complex patients," she said. 

And in an effort to accommodate its female patients, the clinic added a women's nurse practitioner to its staff in May. 

"She handles a majority of the women's health exams and follow-up care," Colonel Mercier said. 

The family practice clinic not only caters to service members, spouses and retirees, but also children. Pediatrics, which also falls under the family practice flight, is the medical liaison between the child development center when it comes to taking care of the children, Colonel Mercier said. 

Pediatrics has consistently been ranked in the top percentile in AMC by health care integrators when it comes to patient care processes involved with child immunizations, the colonel said.