Bluegrass Station supports medical readiness for Kentucky Guardsmen

Story and photos by Cody Stagner, Medical Outreach Coordinator, Kentucky National Guard

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Sgt. Thomas J. Shaddix, assigned to the Kentucky National Guard Medical Detachment, checks vitals during a periodic health assessment at Bluegrass Station in Lexington, Ky., May 10, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Cody Stagner, Medical Outreach Coordinator, Kentucky National Guard/Released)

LEXINGTON, Ky. –Built in Lexington as a major Army depot in support of war efforts during World War II, Bluegrass Station is best known for its triumphs over unique challenges.  The now self-sufficient depot was once home to 275 German prisoners of war from 1945-1946.

Today it’s home to the Kentucky National Guard’s G1-Health Services Clinic—a valuable resource to increase the medical readiness of Kentucky’s Citizen Soldiers.

“The clinic began as a way to provide make up health assessments, physicals and behavioral health exams,” said Capt. Stephanie K. Fields, Deputy State Surgeon.

“We knew we would have to avoid relying on active duty treatment facilities like those at Fort Knox, and Bluegrass Station’s clinical facilities were already in use by the Kentucky Medical Detachment during weekend drill,” said Fields.  “This gave us the perfect opportunity to staff the clinic during the week and provide these additional services to our Soldiers.”

To see more photos from this story, click here

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Sgt. Michael Farrar, a diesel mechanic from Detachment 1, 207th Horizontal Engineer Construction Company, reads out letters and numbers on the eye exam chart at Bluegrass Station Clinic in Lexington, Ky., May 10, 2012. The clinic is a new asset to the Kentucky National Guard which offers medical readiness services; such as periodic health assessments, mental health evaluations and focused exams to provide physical profiles. (U.S. Army photo by Cody Stagner, Medical Outreach Coordinator, Kentucky National Guard/Released)

The Kentucky Guard has more than 7,000 Soldiers to schedule periodic health assessments for each year, and missing PHAs could have a negative impact on a unit’s deployment readiness.  The clinic gives the Kentucky Guard a proactive approach to identify and action missing PHAs as well as non-deployable Soldiers in a timelier manner.

While PHAs are typically scheduled on drill weekends, occasionally a curve ball is thrown at Soldiers that require their units to reschedule on an individual basis.

Sgt. Michael Farrar, a diesel mechanic with the 207th Horizontal Engineer Construction Company, lives in the small town of Woods Bend, located just outside of West Liberty, Ky., which was one of the most affected areas hit by devastating tornadoes, March 2, 2012.

“The next day after the big storm was drill, but I spent that whole weekend removing more than fifty trees out of my driveway,” said Farrar.  “I came here to make up for that missed PHA.”

Whether it is an annual PHA or required physicals for training, the G1-HS Clinic stays busy.

“Since we opened, we have completed over 400 periodic health assessments,” said Monique Carter, the fitness for duty coordinator at the clinic.

Carter also credited an additional 132 focused exams, 86 mental health evaluations and 43 other physicals to the clinic’s first quarter’s report card.

When medical exams reveal a Soldier has a medical or psychological condition that needs further evaluation, physical profile, referral, or even special examinations for military schools, the G1-HS Clinic is a preferred option to provide the necessary service.

Staff Sgt. Anthony T. Hughes and Sgt. Aleksander Vinogradov, from the 577th Engineer Sapper Company, are both enrolled in an upcoming Sapper Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“Coming here was the most convenient way to complete our physical exams that qualify us for school,” said Hughes, a combat engineer and training NCO.

For both Soldiers, the Lexington location was convenient.

“This was my first time coming to Bluegrass Station,” Vinogradov said.  “It was a little harder to find the medical building than WHFRTC (Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Facility in Greenville, Ky.), but the short drive was much easier coming from Ashland.”

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1st Lt. Mark J. Martin, a member of Kentucky Army National Guard Medical Detachment, analyzes medical data after examining a Soldier at Bluegrass Station Clinic, Lexington, Ky., May 10, 2012. Martin’s civilian job as state medical services specialist plays key to maintaining medical readiness of Kentucky Guard members. (U.S. Army photo by Cody Stagner, Medical Outreach Coordinator, Kentucky National Guard/Released)

Bluegrass Station is centrally located in Lexington which adds overall convenience to Kentucky Guard members residing on the Eastern side of the state who normally would have driven an additional three hours to Greenville and stayed overnight.  The benefit of many getting to spend more time with family is a welcomed and unforeseen advantage.

1st Lt. Mark J. Martin has a dual role in Kentucky Guard medical readiness.  On drill weekends, Martin is an Army nurse for the Kentucky Guard’s medical detachment and provides his expertise as a military medical officer.  During the week, however, Martin is the state medical services specialist, where his efforts with the clinic make large strides for Kentucky.

“Since G1-Health Services began this initiative, readiness has gone up seven percent,” said Martin.  “We have become the most productive medical asset for the state.”

Bluegrass Station is located at 5751 Briar Hill Road, Lexington, KY  40516. To schedule a PHA or exam, Soldiers must contact their unit’s readiness NCO.

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