Medical refocus boosts ANG unit’s readiness standings

4/17/24 (Wed)

Medical refocus boosts ANG unit’s readiness standings


JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Two years ago, the 108th Wing ranked at the bottom out of 93 Air National Guard organizations in Individual Medical Readiness standings, but with the implementation of a refocus initiative, they are now in the top 20.

“IMR, like many programs, is a leadership responsibility, and unit commanders, along with unit health monitors are charged with ensuring their folks are medically ready to “’fight tonight,’” said Chief Master Sgt. Andre Lazaro, senior enlisted leader, 108th Medical Group. 

A unit’s IMR percentages increase as more members become current in immunizations, labs, dental, and Personal Health Assessment completions. The obvious optimal goal is 100% compliance. In January 2024 the effort began in earnest to improve the wing’s standings.

We developed a process that re-engages commanders and UHMs while supporting individual wing members, said Richard Lorraine, commander, 108th MDG.  

That process, originally named IMR Day, consisted of the medical staff identifying units that were in the yellow or red and targeting them first, said Lt. Col. Melody Yung, 108th MDG medical provider, and brain behind the IMR Day concept.

A team consisting of a provider and top-tier noncommissioned officers review the IMR issues and during the unit training assembly the medical staff spend a day assisting them to boost their medical readiness.  This system allows unit members within the same squadron to reset their due dates across the board so going forth, everyone is due at the same time.

IMR Day became known as ‘IMR Refocus,’ because efforts begin way before the drill weekend with medical technicians looking to see who’s due and overdue in all the areas, explains Aerospace Medical Technician Staff Sgt. Brandon Beslow. “The first step is to notify the squadron commander and provide an IMR Focus brief. Together, we develop and plan how to get their squadron’s numbers up and layout a schedule for accomplishment during the unit’s assigned day during the UTA weekend.  The UHMS are tasked to reach out to their overdue members prior to UTA and request action items be completed, documented and paperwork sent to the 108th MDG staff by a set deadline. If deadlines are missed the units must provide a get-well date,” he said.

During UTA, members from the same unit are assigned to chalks and given a block of time to go to medical and accomplish their personalized checklist of items. Escorts show them where to go.

Everyone must checkout before leaving, which allows medical personnel to ensure no one is missing anything and that everything was accomplished. The process ends with members signing the validated checklist.

The key components are getting the UHMS engaged in direct contact with members to meet deadlines, and leadership support for accountability, said Yung. If commanders don’t support the process, it won’t work. Weeks leading up to the IMR Refocus, supportive commanders won’t allow the member to be excused from the UTA if they are showing as due on any IMR item – they must come in to handle it. This attitude has led to the success of the process.

To help the units along during the UTA, the 108th MDG Chief Nurse, Maj. Janet Rice, troubleshoots discrepancies and claims by members that checklist items were previously turned in or done by a civilian provider. She researches if paperwork is on file to substantiate claims to keep the flow going and remains in direct communication with unit leadership.

The chief nurse gives credit to all the medical staff in making IMR Refocus work smoothly, from nursing services, medical providers, dentists, immunizations, and administration.

“We can’t do it without every single person,” said Rice.

“The team puts in lots of work before, during, and after IMR Refocus,” said Lazaro. “We were not only improving readiness metrics for individual units and the wing, but we were also educating our customers and maintaining the higher metrics,” he said.

“I can honestly say the medical IMR Day event during the February UTA helped the logistics readiness squadron immensely in clearing up medical issues,” said Col. Janal Thomas, commander, 108th LRS. “The personalized attention the 108th MDG staff provided to our members enabled our squadron’s IMR statistics to increase by almost 20 percent, making our organization able to successfully support the Wing’s mission. I am truly grateful for all the outstanding effort of the 108th MDG team in ensuring the Wing can answer the call of the state and nation.”

Lt. Col. Drew Eisenhofer, 204th Intelligence Squadron commander agrees with Thomas.

“The IMR Day for the 204th IS could not have gone any better. I was stopped by a very experienced master sergeant the Sunday of the UTA who attended IMR day, and he said, ‘It was the most efficient and professional process’ that he’s seen in the Air Force,’ said Eisenhofer.  “I agree and think that IMR Day is a fantastic idea. Our medical readiness numbers increased by 12 percent, ensuring our ability to be fit-to-fight.  I can’t say enough about the professionalism of the 108th MDG personnel and their ability to continuously improve!” 

After the first UTA when we applied the process, we saw the difference in numbers from Saturday to Sunday, said Yung.  For example, one unit started in the low 70 percentile in readiness and by end of Sunday’s drill they were in the mid-80s. Those standing alone pulled the wing up in its overall percentile.

“This is an accomplishment that we in the (108th) Medical Group are indeed very proud of,” said Lorraine.

To see this process working and witnessing the rewards of our hard work is a morale builder said Staff Sgt. Kasie Stanley, a 108th MDG aerospace medical technician. “It also serves as a motivator. We see what we can do, and now have a goal to reach the top 10 in readiness in the ANG.”

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