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Preparation and coordination equals mission success for dental clinic

SMSgt. Eleanor Torres, 940th AMDS/SGO receives a dental check up during the August UTA weekend.

SMSgt. Eleanor Torres, 940th AMDS/SGO receives a dental check up during the August UTA weekend. (Courtesy photo)

A view of a typical exam room created within the dental clinic to maintain distancing and practice safety during COVID-19 conditions.

A view of a typical exam room created within the dental clinic to maintain distancing and practice safety during COVID-19 conditions. (Courtesy photo)

During the dental exams, x-rays were taken and stored on a flash drive for use throughout the process and record continuity.

During the dental exams, x-rays were taken and stored on a flash drive for use throughout the process and record continuity. (Courtesy photo)

An unidentified Airman is receiving a dental exam as staff assistant records the notes and maintaining social distancing.

An unidentified Airman is receiving a dental exam as staff assistant records the notes and maintaining social distancing. (Courtesy photo)

Technician is preparing the clinic space to receive patients and implementing safe practice used under COVID-19 guidelines.

Technician is preparing the clinic space to receive patients and implementing safe practice used under COVID-19 guidelines. (Courtesy photo)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California --

The 940th Aeromedical Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, California, proved to be on their game and mission while adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the base commander, Center of Disease Control and the Department of Defense during this August’s unit training assembly.

The 940 AMDS teamed up with Logistics Health Incorporated based out of La Crosse, Wisconsin. LHI provides health care solutions to government and commercial organizations offering staffing, employee readiness, record-keeping and other medical services.

Together, AMDS and LHI planned the dental screening for 215 Reserve Citizen Airmen.

There were 193 patients seen at the LHI staged clinic and 22 members screened at the dental clinic.  The clinics opened to receive its first patient at 7:30 a.m. with the last one was seen at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

“We have been planning this since mid-July,” said Staff Sgt. Michelle Lee, 940 AMDS dental technician. “We began communicating with the offices in Wisconsin. We told them about how many patients we were about to see at that time and that number was close to two hundred. AMDS was notified there were going to be sending a team of three.  Three teams and each team consisted of a doctor, an x-ray technician and a dental assist.”

LHI brought in 11 people: three dentists, one event coordinator lead, and seven technicians to do x-rays and assist with exams.

The company brought their own polyvinyl chloride piping and partitions, and AMDS provided some shelves and shower curtains to divide the patients and maintain the mandatory six foot social distancing. Red tape was placed on the floor so people would stand far enough apart from one another.                                           

There was a table set up for the dentist and an assistant would sit opposite, spaced at the specified six foot distance. Lawn chairs were put out so the patients could sit down. This was the same type of set up for the x-ray machine as well. Additionally, there were some other x-ray machines available spaced on the exterior of the room.

Two employees from LHI arrived Friday and set up the room. AMDS provided the tables, chairs, all of the equipment, office machines, printers and paper.

“On Saturday, LHI arrived at 6:30 a.m. and did a run through to make sure everything was working and we saw our first patient scheduled at 7:30 a.m,” Lee said. “The patients checked in at the front door and received the COVID-19 screening questions. We did blood pressure screening and temperature check, then each patient was handed a packet. They checked in with LHI as well so they could put their information down like their name and the health history form.”

All the medical data and information was loaded to a flash drive. Then the patient proceeded to the x-ray station. The x-ray technician took their x-rays and load those images on the flash drive and the patient proceeded to the dental exam chair.

At the dental exam station, the patient was seated and the technician inserted the flash drive into the computer to load the images. The dentist viewed them and made notes on the findings, then loaded that data into the computer and saved it on the drive. The patient moved on to the checkout station and AMDS did the final checkout and confirmation before sending the patient on their way.

When asked if there were any major challenges in setting this up, Lee explained how AMDS had to coordinate with the unit health monitors and figure out who needed to be seen.

“The UHMs scheduled all the people that we wanted. We had originally sent out rosters that said we noticed a lot of people getting ready for deployment.”

The clinic also had visits from members who came for their third year dental exam and those who were unable to see their civilian dentist due to being closed for COVID-19 or priority reasons.

It was emphasized that the biggest concern was getting everybody to the clinic, getting each person scheduled and making sure social distancing standards were maintained.

“Lessons learned were we should start planning earlier instead of just a month ahead,” said Lee.

At the end of the day, there was enough time left to remain open for an hour, so the clinic doors stayed accessible for walk-ins if anyone who wasn’t scheduled wanted to come in for a dental visit.

“None of this would not have been possible without the help of everybody who was able to come in on Friday and help us set up, then clean up and tear down after the event,” said Lee.