Pediatrics clinic cares for young Air Force family members

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Many of the patients seen by the 23rd Medical Group are old enough to vote, but there are thousands of them still learning to read or tie their shoes.

The 10-man 23rd MDG Pediatrics Clinic staff is responsible for the wellness, disease management and preventive care for the dependents of active duty and Reserve servicemembers.

"I knew I wanted to work in this career field the first time I set foot in a pediatric ward during college," said Lt. Col. Mary Robinson, the clinic's element chief and a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner. "Dealing with children presents a unique set of challenges, but I love it."

One of the challenges sometimes encountered with younger patients is diagnosing their illness.

"It's sometimes harder with children to pinpoint precisely what is wrong because they can't describe to us exactly what they're feeling or where the pain is," said Lt Col Robinson.

Luckily, the most common diagnoses for children are problems easily cured.

"The majority of what we encounter are common colds, cough and rashes," said the colonel. "But no matter what the problem is, we try our best to get it taken care of.

"We begin this care by scheduling each child for regular checkups for the first two years of their life," she added. "Some of the biggest problems and developmental delays can occur during this early period so by having preventive appointments, we ensure we are monitoring their health and growth."

Children also receive checkups past that age, but a challenge remains for the Pediatric clinic staff.

"They have a hard time concentrating or paying attention to anything for longer than a couple of minutes," said Airman 1st Class Kerji Hunt, 23rd MDG aerospace medicine technician. "I love interacting with the younger patients, but they can be dramatic sometimes. They also aren't familiar with techniques like ear irrigation, so when I'm performing them they don't really know how to act."

Despite what the technician or doctor is covering during the checkup, they are always thorough. As the mother of two young sons, Colonel Robinson knows how important this can be and what it means to parents.

"Parenting is such a big job and there's so much to juggle when it comes to each child," she said. "It's a huge relief when you know your son or daughter is being properly cared for.

"Also as a parent, there is a lot of information to sift through about what is wrong and right in regards to raising your children," Colonel Robinson added. "When parents are feeling overwhelmed, they often come to us because they believe in us and trust in the healthcare we provide."

Other staff members include Capt. Joanna Isbel, a board-certified pediatrician, Debra Cone and Cindy Henley.

On average, the Pediatrics clinic is responsible for seeing about 2,600 patients each year.