1st SOMDOS: The human body maintainers

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt Lauren Johnson
  • 1st SOW Public Affairs
Almost everyone on base is familiar with the medical group complex on the East side of base, but there's a lot more going on behind the brick walls and gleaming linoleum than meets the eye. 

At the core of the medical group is the 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron. 

The squadron is made up of approximately 120 people, including a mix of active duty, contractor and civilians, and is divided into four flights. Each flight has a different focus, but all share the goal of keeping 8,000 active duty, Reserve and civilian personnel, and 22,000 beneficiaries mentally and physically healthy.

Physical Therapy 

The physical therapy flight may be the smallest in the 1st SOMDOS in number of personnel, but it has a large mission impact. Their focus is on rehabilitative and post-operative care, and injury prevention through instructing patients on things like stretches and flexibility. 

"We're trying to promote the ethos of an athlete warrior, getting people quickly recovered and back in the fight" said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Brown, 1st SOMDOS superintendent. 

To facilitate the "athlete warrior ethos," the physical therapy flight is preparing to open a new physical therapy building, including an expanded running clinic with embedded orthopedics and additional equipment, spanning a vast 6,000 square feet. The clinic will operate in conjunction with the current running clinic at the Health and Wellness Center.

Behavioral health 

Behavioral health is a diverse flight, encompassing a wide range of programs focused on all aspects of mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Family advocacy, mental health, new parent support, and drug demand and reduction divisions provide individualized therapy, counseling and preventative services for Hurlburt Airmen. 

"We deal with a myriad of issues," said Master Sgt. Symika Taylor, behavioral health flight NCOIC. 

The issues - anxiety, adjustment and depression - are similar to the issues many young adults face. 

"We deal with everyday people, their pressures are just compounded," Sergeant Taylor said. 

Sergeant Taylor also said she enjoys her job because it gives her the opportunity to help people in need. 

"People will call or come back to say 'thanks,' and that makes it all worthwhile," she said.

Diagnostics and Therapeutics 

The diagnostics and therapeutics flight includes the radiology department, the laboratory and the pharmacy. 

The radiology department works in conjunction with a radiologist at Eglin Air Force Base. Currently, they're looking to acquire a completely digital, filmless radiology suite that would enable instantaneous transfer to the Eglin radiologist, creating a faster turnaround time for patients. 

Last year, the lab team performed more than 95,000 test samples a 99.9 percent accuracy rate and brought Hurlburt to a top five ranking in the Air Force for cervical cancer screens. 

The lab also recently breezed through a no-notice inspection, which, Sergeant Brown said, is exceptional for such a complex department. 

Sergeant Brown described the pharmacy as a "well oiled machine," pushing out 156,000 prescriptions every year on a $4.3 million budget. 

Most Hurlburt patients are familiar the busy waiting room and the friendly Red Cross volunteers assisting at pharmacy windows, but there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes as well. 

Sergeant Brown explained the elaborate process where each prescription is scanned, logged by a technician and double-checked by a pharmacist. Warning labels that detail any possible side effects and potential reactions to other medications are also printed.

Medical Services flight 

The medical services flight is perhaps the most familiar to the base population at large. It is the largest flight in the 1st SOMDOS and includes the Osprey and Spectre family practice clinics, which see 200 patients every day. 

Their four primary care teams were recently awarded the Best Primary Care Element in the Air Force, and a recent Department of Defense customer satisfaction survey reflected a 98 percent clinic satisfaction rate. 

"In a service industry, that's phenomenal," Sergeant Brown said. 

The medical services flight also manages the women's health clinic, immunizations and a bustling 40-50 patient per day pediatrics section.

On a base with such a high operations tempo, one service the medical operations squadron provides that is especially important are pre-and post-deployment health screenings. 

Medical personnel are also busy in the deployment realm. 

"The people who are dedicated to peacetime healthcare are the same who we send to deployed environments," Sergeant Brown said. 

Whether at home or deployed, the 1st SOMDOS is standing by to ensure medical readiness, health protection and performance enhancement. 

Sergeant Brown said this makes his job personally and professionally rewarding. 

"I love that I get to do something for people that makes their lives better," he said.