Keesler Medical Center supports Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Steve Pivnick
  • 81st Medical Group Public Affairs
As another example of the Keesler Medical Center's "Hospital without Walls" concept, a team of physicians from Keesler and Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., travelled to Jackson, Miss., to support the Mississippi Air National Guard's 172nd Airlift Wing during its Dec. 7-8 unit training assembly.

Col. (Dr.) Paul Nelson, the medical center's chief flight surgeon: Maj. (Dr.) Andrew Rohrer, a pathologist with the 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron who is requalifying as a flight surgeon; and Capt. (Dr.) Quinton Keigley, a recent internal medicine residency graduate, joined Lt. Col. (Dr.) Charlie Martineau from Columbus and the flight surgeons from the 172ndAW, led by Lt. Col. (Dr.) Brian Tollefson. The visiting physicians travelled more than three hours to help alleviate medical requirements that had accumulated due to the recent government shutdown.

A member of the 172nd AW staff observed, "Our wing commander, Col. Todd Wall, was overwhelmed with the tremendous help provided by your team when they came to Jackson and assisted us with the backlog of physicals, flu shots and more resulting from the government shutdown."

Tollefson said, "It pays to work together. When we are able to take advantage of this type of situation by working together, it makes all of us stronger. At the end of the day, we're all in the same Air Force."

Keigley commented, "I am excited to see all of the opportunities that we have in flight medicine here in Mississippi."

Based upon his recent experiences, Keigley has put Columbus as his top pick for a follow-up assignment.

"I just graduated from the training program at Keesler and now I get to see how it all fits together," said Keigley.

Nelson added, "Keesler Medical Center, the14th Training Wing at Columbus, and our total force partners with the 403rd Wing at Keesler, the Mississippi ANG in Jackson and the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center are working and training together using available aircraft to offer cost-effective, efficient training."

A prime example of joint training was occurring simultaneously with the medical team's 172nd AW aid. A Keesler Medical Center critical care air transport team participated in "Southern Strike 14," hailed as the Air National Guard's premier southern training event. The exercise, conducted Dec. 2-13 at the Trent Lott CRTC and Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg, Miss., was initiated to provide tailored, cost-effective and realistic training for the National Guard in a joint and multinational environment.

Tollefson said, "The ability to conduct real training with our Air Force partners on available aircraft is cost-effective. We all benefit by building relationships and working together. We have very experienced flight surgeons and flight surgeons in training. Collaboration such as this benefits all involved. We all work together in Mississippi by all moving forward in the training environment."

He added, "When the 172nd AW comes down to the CRTC in the spring, we look forward to developing joint training with them. In fact, Colonel Wall has recommended we all get together and brainstorm the issue."

Nelson commented, "Dr. Rohrer will be our 'point guy' to work this joint relationship. His commander, Col. Thomas Bacon, has been very supportive of this new role and his support in this effort is greatly appreciated."

Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Kory Cornum, Keesler Medical Center commander, said, "This (cooperative effort) demonstrates how active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard - medics and operators - working together can achieve great results and understand what each team brings to the fight."

"The work that our CCATT teams are doing with the 403rd Wing at Keesler and the ANG is truly cutting edge. This is a cost-conscious and efficient use of our respective resources," added Cornum. "Everybody learns how to better care of our patients and our mission and we have fun doing it."