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55th Medical Group selected for two Air Force level awards

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jacquelen Cota, 55th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, bandages a patient with a simulated abdomen wound following a mock attack on “Base X” behind the headquarters building Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., July 27.  Patients flooded the small medical tent giving the Offutt medical staff training to take their skill set on deployment.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jacquelen Cota, 55th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, bandages a patient with a simulated abdomen wound following a mock attack on “Base X” behind the headquarters building Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., July 27. Patients flooded the small medical tent giving the Offutt medical staff training to take their skill set on deployment. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

OFFUTT AIR BASE, Neb. -- The men and women of the 55th Medical Group recently learned that their hard work and dedication earned them two Air Force level awards.

The Ehrling Bergquist Clinic was recognized with the 2012 Air Force Surgeon General Award for Best Clinic, and the dental clinic was named the 2012 Air Force Medical Service Best Large Dental Clinic.

"I'm very excited for the team," said Col. Stephen Mounts, 55th MDG commander. "They are a phenomenal group of people and deserve to receive these prestigious awards. When I arrived to the medical group this past summer, I could tell it was a special place, so it was no surprise to me that they won "best in the Air Force" in these two award categories. The previous leadership and the entire team did a phenomenal job of establishing a culture of customer service and high-quality patient care, two hallmarks of an award winning organization."

Mounts attributes the success of the clinics to many areas. The clinic passed every test in 2012 and specifically, they achieved the highest ratings during critical inspections, such as the "Outstanding" in the Health Services Inspection in June 2012. In addition, several medical programs were dubbed "benchmark programs" by inspectors from the Air Force Inspection Agency (AFIA). The clinic also received a 94 out of 100 score, the highest score in its history.

"One of our benchmark programs is our mental health program," the colonel said. "Our medical professionals work hand-in-hand with unit leadership and Airmen in distress to make sure they are getting all the services they need and eliminate gaps in support. The Mental Health Clinic's approach actually served as the foundation of the Air Combat Command Surgeon General's effort to establish a command standard on how to handle mental health patients."

In addition to the AFIA team's inspection, the clinic also impressed the surveyors from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), a civilian accreditation body focused on quality care and patient safety.

"The survey with the AAAHC was a comprehensive review of our clinical programs, and they walked away extremely impressed. In fact, they awarded the clinic full accreditation with the highest rating possible, "very substantially compliant."

The colonel added that two other areas probably helped the Mighty Medics rise above their competition at the Air Force level - the clinic's education and training programs, and its strategic partnerships with several high-quality healthcare organizations in the surrounding community.

"Although Ehrling Bergquist is now an outpatient clinic, it remains a hub of medical and dental professional training for the Air Force. This education and training mission is a core focus and one that offers opportunity to be much more than your routine outpatient facility," said Mounts.

The clinic hosts a family medicine residency, which is integrated with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is the second largest military-civilian integrated residency in the country. The dental clinic also supports the Air Force's largest single-site dental residency that graduates eight residents every year.

"We also have a physician assistant training program, which is also part of the DoD training program in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center," he said. "We graduate two to four graduates a year out of that program. In addition to that, we also conduct radiology and laboratory technician phase two training for our enlisted members. Our education and training programs are very successful and serve as a bridge to our downtown partnerships."

"We couldn't do what we do without our downtown partners. The agreements we have in place with Bellevue Medical Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Alegent Creighton Medical Center and several other world-class institutions enable the success of our training programs and help ensure we provide the highest quality care to the almost 49,000 TRICARE beneficiaries in the great Omaha area."

Ultimately, while doing well on inspections and successful training programs is a testament to the clinic's accomplishments, the colonel believes consistent positive customer feedback to be their ultimate measure of success.

"I've been told here, more than anywhere else, that our medical and dental services are the best people have experienced in their career," Mounts said. "Ninety-nine percent of the feedback we get is positive and that is because of our people. Their commitment to patient-centered care goes a long way to sustaining a reputation of excellence."




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