MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 23d Medical Group is essential for providing health services to Airmen and their Families. One piece of equipment the clinics rely on daily is the sterilizer, which is critical to keeping the dental, family and women’s health clinics up and running.
In an effort to streamline processes within the 23d Medical Group, Moody’s biomedical maintenance technicians are currently in the process of replacing the two STERIS Reliance Surgical Washer sterilizers here.
“The sterilizer [disinfects] all of the used [non-disposable medical] equipment,” Staff Sgt. Steven Dearth, 23d Medical Support Squadron’s, NCO in charge of biomedical maintenance. “[For example] in dental every instrument used to clean your teeth is washed and then put in the sterilizer to decontaminate it. Without the sterilizer, dental and women’s health would be completely shut down. They do have a small tabletop sterilizer but that would impact their production and in turn impact how many patients they can see on a daily basis.”
The steam-based sterilizers have been at the 23d MDG since 2004, and use varying temperatures, pressures and phases to eradicate any bacteria on the equipment that patients come in contact with.
The new sterilizer will improve the processing of equipment allowing the clinics to have more instruments readily available. The sterilizers currently in place still decontaminate the equipment, it just takes 20 more minutes to do so.
This delay can slow down technicians who work in the 23d Aerospace Medical Squadron Central Instrument Processing Center (CIPC), who are responsible for ensuring all instruments are properly sterilized.
“I put 110 percent in the job so I take pride in just knowing that I am doing everything I can to make sure our kits are properly sterilized and ready for patient use,” said Saundra Pittman 23d AMDS CIPC technician added. “I’m very excited about the new sterilizers … it’s time for the old ones to go.”
On an average day, Pittman uses each of the sterilizers once, but when the clinics are busy the workload can get hectic.
“On the busiest days, I’ve run three loads through one sterilizer and two on the other,” said Pittman, who has worked as a CIPC technician for a year. “Every day is busy but the new sterilizers will ensure it doesn’t take as much time. Whenever there was a work stoppage due to an issue with the sterilizers [biomedical maintenance (BM)] would come over and take care of it because they know the importance of our job.”
BM performs maintenance on the sterilizer and is responsible for roughly 1,970 pieces of equipment valued at 5.2 million dollars that help medical technicians ensure Airmen assigned to Moody, and their families, are taken care of.
They’re also responsible for 550 war reserve equipment items valued at 2.2 million dollars that are allocated to the other squadrons who deploy with medical equipment.
“My job is to make sure all the equipment in the facility is up and running,” said Dearth. “I do that by completing monthly preventative maintenance. At Moody if the technicians can’t do their job it prevents them from clearing [Airmen] so they can deploy.”
While Pittman takes pride in ensuring the instruments are sterilized, Dearth takes pride in ensuring the sterilizer works.
“Whenever I’m working on a piece of equipment, I always go in with the mentality that it will be used on one of my family members,” said Dearth. “So I want to do my job to the best of my ability to make sure that piece of equipment is 100 percent good to go.”