JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The Reid Clinic waiting room at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland is filled with basic military trainees and technical training students waiting to see a doctor. The trainees sit in silence reading their manuals. Their heads nodding, tired eyes struggling to stay open, a wingman nudges them when their name is called by a technician.
When the trainee gets to the exam room, they are greeted by the smiling face of the provider. The trainee takes off their back pack and relaxes in the chair while the doctor begins to ask them questions. The doctor listens attentively to the trainee and begins to examine them, checking their heart and lungs. After a thorough evaluation, the doctor explains what the trainee needs to do to ensure they can get back to training.
The 59th Medical Wing’s Pediatric Clinic is currently assisting the 559th Medical Group by lending two additional providers. The 559th MDG keeps the Air Force’s enlisted pipeline moving by providing medical care to all basic military trainees.
“A pediatrician is trained to see patients up to the age of 23. Most of our young Airmen join the Air Force during that age range,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Dalia Garcia, 59th Medical Operations Squadron Maternal Child Care flight commander. “With pediatrics supporting them, it’s increasing how many Airmen they can treat.”
On average, 559th MDG providers see 140 patients each week for concerns such as the flu; colds; aches and pains; and sprains. The clinic is the only way for trainees to receive the treatment or medication needed for illnesses.
Typically, pediatric clinics generally see patients up to the age of 13 before they move to a family care provider.
“Personally, for a pediatric nurse practitioner, this gives me a great opportunity to work on some of my adolescent and older children skills,” said Capt. Natalie Aguilar, 59th Medical Operations Squadron pediatric nurse practitioner. “It also gives me a chance to work on musculoskeletal and more acute care aspects of my practice.”
For many trainees, this is their first time away from home.
“There’s more of a parental role to it, because typically when we see patients, they come with a parent,” said Maj. (Dr.) Kathy Boggs, 59th Medical Operations Squadron pediatric medical director. “Over on the trainee side they’re away from home, so they’re all on their own.”
The pediatric clinic also sends nurses and physicians to Brooke Army Medical Center and Laughlin Air Force Base keeping them current in their specialty while assisting undermanned units.
“We love having the pediatric providers here in clinic with us,” said Maj. Christopher Herman, 559th Trainee Health Squadron flight commander. “The impact they have on the clinic and the mission is huge. While their scope of care is limited due to age, they take on a full workload, and since we are undermanned, that is crucial.”