Surgeon General visits 673d MDG; emphasizes readiness, innovation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Samuel Colvin
  • JBER Public Affairs

Readiness, readiness and readiness are priorities one, two and three, said the U.S. Air Force and Space Force surgeon general and the chief of the medical enlisted force at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, April 26.

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, surgeon general, and Chief Master Sgt. Dawn Kolczynski, Office of the Surgeon General medical enlisted force and enlisted corps chief, recognized and connected with medics, visited the 673d Medical Group, sharing their leadership vision, learning how the 673d Air Base Wing successfully operated during COVID-19, and determined how the Office of the Surgeon General can assist.

“We are the maintainers of the human weapons system,” Hogg said. “Just like a jet needs a maintainer to make sure that it's operating and functioning to its fullest capability, we do the same to our human weapons system. Our responsibility as medics is to ensure they are operating at their fullest capability and highest potential.”

The visit included a tour of the 65-bed, eight-operating room military treatment facility and all six squadrons that make up the 673d MDG. Hogg and Kolczynski were briefed on capabilities, operations, innovations, COVID-19 management and vaccine rollout, and plans for improvement.

“The focus is ready medics — what training do they need, and what can we do to help them be better prepared as they continue to fight COVID and whatever the next war is we may face,” Kolczynski said.

Hogg and Kolczynski said they were impressed with the way the Allergy and Immunizations Clinic staff successfully transformed a section of the Elmendorf Fitness Center into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and got shots into arms as soon as supplies were received.

“They've been innovative, they knew what they had to deal with locally and they took that and they did great things with it, which has made all the difference in their ability to ensure readiness,” Hogg said.

Kolczynski also praised innovative medics at JBER and encouraged all Airmen and Guardians to continue pursuing new ideas and innovation to improve the force.

“Your voice matters, no matter what your rank is … don't be afraid to speak up,” Kolczynski said. “If you face a supervisor that you can't get past and you’ve tried your chain of command, you can get that idea directly to us using the disruptive innovation button [on the Air Force Medical Service website].”

In addition to individual Airmen being recognized by Hogg and Kolczynski for outstanding performance, the 673d MDG was honored as the winner of the 2020 USAF Surgeon General Award for Hospital of the Year.

“The visit was an exciting opportunity for us to showcase all our hard work and everything that sets aside JBER,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Megan John, the 673d Healthcare Operations Squadron Family Health Clinic Flight commander. “We were able to show how we do things differently and everything we've gone through in the past year, the constant changes we’ve had to make, and how we’re still thriving.”

“They've been busy, they’ve been working hard, and I want to be able to represent them to our senior leaders to let them know that medics have been at the forefront of this operation for the past year and they have nailed it,” Hogg said.

This was Hogg’s last planned visit to JBER as the surgeon general, as she plans to retire in June.

“It truly has been an honor to serve as a surgeon general these past three years, to really see our Airmen really stepping up and taking on the challenges that we've had,” Hogg said. “It will be bittersweet having to say goodbye but it has been truly an honor to help represent them and bring what they do each and every day to our senior leaders.”