JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The Pacific Air Force’s largest multi-service unit supports installation resiliency by caring for people.
At the hospital on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the MSU provides inpatient services for all military members and their families, Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs patients other than labor and delivery, intensive care, and psychiatric inpatients.
This diverse patient population demonstrates how the MSU effects the installations readiness.
“We are part of the bigger mission by caring for not only our military members but their families,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexa Noel, a 673d Inpatient Operations Squadron MSU shift supervisor. “We are keeping our forces ready to fight by helping them heal and
getting them back out and ready to go. We also take care of their family members so when they need to leave, they can do it with the peace of mind that their family is going to receive amazing care.”
The unit also plays a role in how the installation interacts with the medical community in the area.
“Community-based partnerships are huge,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Rebecca Castaneda, 673d IPTS MSU flight commander. “The MSU mentors students from both charter schools and University of Alaska Anchorage as well as new VA nurses. They come to the unit and our nurses help them with their practices for schooling. This means we are doing tons for community relations for the installation, from the medical standpoint.”
With 22 beds supporting all ages, the MSU can be a challenging workplace. Airmen who work there depend on each other to get their job done.
“What the staff here is willing to do for each other for the sake of our patients is unlike anything I have ever seen,” Noel said. “I have been in the Air Force for more than seven years and I have never been in a unit with this level of teamwork or camaraderie.”
Enlisted medical technicians are usually assigned a certain number of patients and manage the majority of their care. This can range from hygiene and comfort care to taking their vital signs and doing treatment interventions such as inserting IVs or drawing blood.
Noel said providing this care is really what makes her enjoy what she does.
“I would say my favorite part of my job is the care I am able to provide for people here,” said Noel. “We have patients who have served in wars and have made sacrifices. Something as small as sitting with a patient and hearing their story is one of the things I really appreciate about my job.”
The array of responsibilities for MSU Airmen makes it unlike many others in the medical career field.
“What I like most about the MSU is everyday you're going to get something different,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kora Ruiz, a 673d IPTS aerospace medical service technician. “From day to day, you never know what kind of patient you're going to get, which makes it fun.”
Overall, Castaneda said she is proud of her Airmen and the quality of work they produce.
“The quality of our nurses and our medical technicians is very high especially with the diverse population they care for,” Castaneda said. “They come to work with great attitudes and are very involved with the larger mission and the community. They do their jobs and they do them well.”