BUCKLEY AFB

The friendly faces behind initial patient care at New York IRT

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Story by A1C Cameron Lewis on 07/15/2019
As community members come into Norwich High School to receive no-cost health care during the Greater Chenango Cares Innovative Readiness Training July 11 - July 20 the first faces they see are U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy patient administrators working side by side with local volunteers.

"When patients walk in the door the first people they see are us," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Saraceno, a patient administrator with the 140th Medical Group, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. "We check them in, figure out which providers they need to see and with the help of local volunteers get them on the right path to receive care."

Being the first faces patients see as they come in for care it's up to the patient administrators to set the standards for care and customer satisfaction.

"As reserve members we are more understanding of how the civilians operate and are aware of the differences in the culture and demographics," said U.S. Navy Lt. Neelam Panchal, the assistant officer in charge of patient administration for the Norwich site assigned to Expeditionary Medical Facility Bethesda, Maryland.

Having the understanding that the patient population in the area is different than what they would see in a typical military medical facility they are able to change their processes to better benefit the community members looking for care.

"Throughout this IRT we have been calling the patients to remind them of their appointments for care and to inform them when their prescription glasses are ready for pick up," said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Marti Irizarry, the NCO in charge of patient administration for the Norwich site assigned to the 115th Medical Group, Madison, Wisconsin. "That's something we haven't done on any of the previous IRT's I've been on."

Where the IRT's focus on providing real-world training in a foreign environment while simultaneously providing no-cost care, the patient administrators are gaining training they wouldn't receive with their home unit.

For U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Fernando Paredes, a medical laboratory technician with the 507th Medical Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma and a patient administrator for the IRT, this IRT is providing him training in a completely new career field.

"Being a patient administrator on this trip gives me a better understanding of how the whole process works up front," said Paredes. "From the initial interaction with the patients to solving any issues they may have and finally gathering all the information at the end of services provided."

As a team, the patient administrators are able to assist each other and help each other grow so they can perform to the best of their abilities when they are called to service.

"With the different services working cohesively together we are able to learn from each other by sharing experiences unique to each branch," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kristina Zorin, a patient administrator assigned to the 920th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

The no-cost medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary services will be provided at the Norwich High School from now to July 19th 8am - 5pm and July 20th 8am - 12pm.

"We treat everyone that comes in for care with the respect and kindness they deserve," said Panchal. "We want you to feel comfortable receiving our services and to refer others to receive the care as well."

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