Consistency key to medical readiness success for Kentucky Guard

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

150110-Z-WA628-019

Soldiers assigned to the 138th Fires 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. — With any military unit, medical readiness is one of the most important critical elements for any operation. Without healthy Soldiers, units are often incapable of completing their mission. For National Guard units, that can be even more vulnerable as units may be called upon in short notice for local emergencies and domestic operations.

For the Kentucky National Guard, consistency has been the key to medical readiness that recently ranked first out all 54 states and territories.

“We are considered fully medically ready,” said Col. Shane Randolph, state surgeon. “We may rank first, but what we care about is the number. We are above 90% as a whole and the National Guard Bureau’s goal for the state is 85%, so we are certainly doing a good job at keeping our Soldiers healthy.”

According to Maj. Stephanie Fields, Kentucky’s deputy state surgeon, this consistency has come from conducting Periodic Health Assessments (PHA) organically and properly managing that information afterwards.

The game plan from the command level has trickled down to successes within each brigade throughout the commonwealth. Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Deatley, medical operations NCO for 138th Field Artillery said advancements in technology and new ways of doing things have helped his brigade thrive with medical readiness.

“You have to proactive at the brigade level,” he said. “Health Services have provided me a solution for whatever I have needed for my Soldiers. The entire brigade really enjoys that our own medics and docs do our own PHAs,and we’re getting pretty proficient at it.”

Deatley said one of the biggest advantages is the use of the unit’s own medical professionals. ¬†Although the use of civilian contractors in the field is helpful, cross training medics of the 138th to assist in a variety of ways for each PHA is a benefit to the units and the Soldiers and allows for smoother PHAs.

He credits Kentucky’s case managers which each brigade has one assigned, have also worked to streamline the process from the initial scheduling of PHAs, through each event and facilitating necessary follow-ups.

Medical readiness is constantly in flux said Fields. She said Kentucky may be first one week and ninth the next, but its about taking care of Soldiers and keeping those numbers high.

“There are several things that have contributed to Kentucky’s readiness over the last several years, but the most important is understanding that ‘medical’ doesn’t stop when you check the block for the PHA,” said Fields. “We also keep in mind that this¬†benefits other states as well. We work together sometimes asking each other what worked for them to boost numbers, then we try to incorporate their ideas into our plans and vice-versa.”

“We like to think of it as a competition, but for the health of our force, we will always work together.”

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