Public health delivers healthy force

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
In the womb, the belly buttons delivers oxygen and nutrients. After people are born, their belly buttons appear to lose their significance because they're no longer a critical part of survival.

In the 23d Medical Group, the public health clinic is their belly button because it monitors Airmen's health and sends them out to various clinics to sustain readiness. From the moment an Airman steps on base, nearly everything medically flows throughout it; from medical readiness to deployment clearance.

The sixteen Airmen and civilians who make up the PHC constantly review Airmen's medical readiness to ensure they are delivering healthy Airmen ready to fly, fight and win.

"We support the entire base population and are responsible for preventing diseases, disabilities and premature deaths," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mandi Wichman, 23d MDG public health flight chief.

With Moody's high operations tempo, last year public health medically cleared more than 1,600 deployers and evaluated approximately 2,500 deployment assessments.

When deployed Airmen return to the states, public health's job is not over because they conduct follow-ups with Airmen for up to two years after they return.

The PHC consists of five sections including: deployment medicine, preventive health assessment, occupational health, community health and food sanitation.

"[In all these sections,] public health is always prevention focused, our goal in each of our programs is to protect the health of our population through education and promoting healthy practices whether it be wearing hearing protection, condoms, or simply just eating right," said Tech. Sgt. Amanda Padilla, 23d MDG force health management element chief. "When education is not enough we identify (what's wrong) and get Airmen where they need to go."

At the forefront of their preventive measures, the public health flight lays eyes on the entire base population to conduct their annual preventive health assessment. 

"We see every single member every single year here, to make sure that Airmen are staying on track with their health," said Wichman. "In some cases, in the past we have caught mental health issues.  We catch people who may not be so healthy and help prevent someone from doing something to harm themselves."

To ensure the occupational health of base personnel, public health teams up with the bioenvironmental engineering flight and flight medicine to quality check and provide assistance to approximately 98 industrial shops on base.

"We check to make sure they are wearing their (proper protective equipment) appropriately, know what their [job's] hazardous chemicals are and that they are keeping their (safety data sheets) updated," said Wichman.

Additionally, the more than 2,000 Airmen who work in these shops are administered hearing tests and other medical exams based on any hazards they may be susceptible to while working.

Not only does public health oversee work hazards, but they also track all diseases and outbreaks.

"Our role in public health is to identify and track emerging trends and outbreaks of public health significance through various surveillance methods," said Padilla. "Our job is to identify the trends early, communicate our findings and assist by developing policies and help plan if necessary.

"For instance, there was a national measles outbreak, although we were not affected here, we went out and reviewed all of the records of the children and staff from the (child development center), which is a part of our routine surveillance methods" Padilla added. "If they were not immunized we made sure that they either got immunizations or they had an exemption letter on file. In coordination with other clinics, we developed an exclusion policy that stated if we were to have an outbreak what that would mean for the people who are not immunized or could not be immunized."

In essence, the public health flight works to prevent disease and keep Moody Airmen educated and ready to attack, rescue and prevail.

"Public health has a unique mission, our civilian counterparts are focused on epidemiology and sanitation, but in the military we have an additional requirement," said Padilla. "We have a mission to accomplish which requires us to maintain a mobility ready force our prevention focused efforts ensure our Airmen are ready to deploy when needed."

To learn more about your individual medical readiness and deployment health visit or call the public health flight at (229) 257-3294.