Kentucky unit implements changes to PHA, gets results

Story by Staff Sgt. David Bolton, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Soldiers assigned to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade conduct annual Periodic Health Assessments Jan. 10, 2015 at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. The 138th conducted the PHA as a self-sustaining unit which did not have to rely on the support from civilian contractors to complete. This self-sustaining capability allowed for minimal delays and saw roughly 350 Soldiers processed over the course of the three-day drill weekend. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. David Bolton)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Soldiers of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade conducted Periodic Health Assessment examinations at the Troop Medical Center Jan. 10, 2015, at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort. Expediency was the word of the day as the 138th processed roughly 350 Soldiers in just a span of three days; accomplished by implementing some unique changes to the PHA.

“Before it might take a Soldier two or three days to complete a PHA,” said said Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Deatly, 138th brigade medical operations noncommissioned officer. “Now we can push through 120 Soldiers a day. By staggering the units, we can get them through in a day or half a day, so they can get back to the training they need to do.”

“A lot of changes have been subtle, but have had a tremendous impact,” said 1st Lt. John Cebak, a brigade medical officer with the 138th. “Experience is one of those. Having medics and personnel who have done this before and are familiar with the process, facilitates a natural flow.”

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Soldiers assigned to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade conduct annual Periodic Health Assessments Jan. 10, 2015 at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. The 138th conducted the PHA as a self-sustaining unit which did not have to rely on the support from civilian contractors to complete. This self-sustaining capability allowed for minimal delays and saw roughly 350 Soldiers processed over the course of the three-day drill weekend. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. David Bolton/ 133 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

These implementations have allowed the 138th to become a fully self-sustaining unit. This means the unit no longer has to rely on the support of civilian contractors to assist in its medical readiness. With stations that include vitals, vision, height/weight, hearing, dental, immunizations and blood draws, this autonomy has been a boon.

“We have everything we need right here,” said Spc. Nolan Boatwright, a medic at BNGC in charge of running PHAs. “We have case managers, physicians assistants, a state surgeon, behavioral health professionals and more than enough medics to staff a PHA.”

Because the 138th does not have to rely on outside support, the medical members of the unit have had the opportunity to train in many areas necessary to the PHA mission. The ability to have this kind of lateral leeway has helped expedite the entire PHA process for the rest of the Soldiers assigned to the 138th.

“It’s a lot of cross-training,” said Deatly. “The training these medics are getting is invaluable. Any of my medics can go to any station in this process, sit down and do it.”

Deatly said the training offered the chance for the Soldiers to get more experience with the responsibilities they will need to take care of in the future as they progress in their careers. He also said the use of Medical Command’s facilities has been an extraordinary asset to their mission.

The end goal of the three-day PHA was to make sure the Soldiers of the 138th were physically fit for duty; not just on the battlefield but on the home front as well.

“The goal is to get the brigade Soldiers evaluated medically to make sure they are able to deploy if needed and to maintain the fighting force,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Pettus, the brigade surgeon for the 138th. “It’s good for the public to be aware that the Soldiers who have come through and are part of the Kentucky National Guard understand their dual role to support their country and their neighbor.”

Video by Spc. Cody Cooper, 133rd MPAD

 

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