Outpatient records affects many, impacts all

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Although many organizations on base have a direct effect on the mission, there are few that are as important to the health of the base populace as the 49th Medical Support Squadron.

Even though members of the squadron distribute vaccinations, administer physical health assessments and refer patients to specialized-treatment facilities, members of the outpatient records section also play a very important role in the base's success.

"We maintain about 12,000 medical records from active-duty members and their dependents, to civil servants, retirees and their dependents as well," said Staff Sgt. Jacob Rangel, 49th MDSS outpatient records section NCO in charge.

Because of the number of files they manage, outpatient records technicians often work 10- to 12-hour days.

"First thing we do every day is retrieve records that we've loaned out to other sections in the clinic," Rangel said. "After that we typically start pulling records for the next day's appointments, which on average is about 150 to 160. Then we deliver those records and start working the in-processing and out-processing for incoming and outgoing personnel. Then we'll do records copies, which can be a very tedious task depending on how big the file is. Young Airmen have maybe 50 pages in their records, but I've copied a 20-year master sergeant's record that had about 3,500 pages."

Often times, Airmen in other agencies don't realize how important the section is until a discrepancy in their file causes hardship, Rangel said.

"For deploying members, we make sure everything gets in their record, because if that's not in there, it could potentially stop their deployment," he said. "For anybody separating or retiring, we send a copy of their record to Veterans Affairs, so they can file any claims with them. We also support the Medical Evaluation Board process as well which is huge, because not having certain paperwork in your file or it not being filed correctly could affect your status or benefits. We basically strive to ensure that Airmen receive an accurate medical evaluation assessment."

With about 12,000 records to continually up-keep, the section's technicians must know where to find any record in a short amount of time.

"Everything is divided into sections, so I always know where to start looking for a particular file," said Airman 1st Class Christian Dick, 49th MDSS outpatient records technician. "All of us can find any record pretty quickly, so I think that's a big part of the customer service we provide."

When it comes down to it, providing exceptional customer support is what it's all about, Dick said.

"We are the heart of the facility," he said. "Without us there would be no records, and without records, providers wouldn't know what exactly needed to get done or when something was done last. A lot of what we do is not understood, because we do so much work behind the scenes."

One of the most important aspects of customer support, Rangel said, is making sure Airmen's records are always deployment ready.

"As insignificant as this may seem, we impact so many people," he said. "We're not out there fixing jets, but we work hard, because we know there are a lot of careers in our hands. It's a constant grind, but we take our support role seriously and give it our best every day."