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Growth at Wilford Hall signals new era of services for wounded warriors

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
A simple ribbon-cutting ceremony witnessed by a gathering of staff and wounded warriors May 20 marked a new era of rehabilitative and administrative services for wounded warriors at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

The ceremony showcased a much anticipated expansion, officially designating a large portion of the medical facility's fifth floor as home for a growing 59th Medical Wing's Patient Squadron.

Normally considered an administrative holding program for Airmen with complex medical conditions, "this new area lets us streamline operations, and improve and expand patient services," said Lt. Col. John DaLomba, Patient Squadron director of operations.

Previously, the core staff was spread out over two different floors, in cubicles that did not allow for privacy when attending to patients. "Now, all the core and support staff is located in once place, with more than twice the amount of space as before," said DaLomba.

The unique thing about the Patient Squadron is that every patient is also a member of the organization. "Every patient is issued permanent change of station orders, or sent here on a temporary duty assignment to be a part of the unit while they recover," said DaLomba.

While assigned to the squadron, patients are offered a variety of services by representatives from warrior support programs and the Air Force Personnel Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

With the new space, DaLomba is working to expand the services available within the squadron. The goal is to have representatives from other base agencies, such as finance and personnel, visit weekly to help patients and their families.

"Their primary duty being recovery and rehabilitation," he added.

Also, depending on their medical needs, some patients are allowed to work in organizations throughout the JBSA.

"About 60 to 65 percent of our patients are able to work in areas within their career fields or similar ones," said DaLomba.

All of treatment and rehabilitative services work toward one common goal, he said, "integrating every patient back into the Air Force, whether in their career field or a new one, or helping them through the process of separating and transitioning back into civilian life."