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59 MDW expands wounded warrior care at MacDill AFB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez
  • 59th Medical Wing
MacDill Air Force Base’s 6th Medical Wing’s dermatology clinic partnered with members from the 59th MDW to learn fractional laser resurfacing, a treatment used by the 59th MDW since 2007, providing patient-centered care to wounded warriors with traumatic amputations, burns and severe scarring.

Col. (Dr.) Chad Hivnor, a 59th MDW dermatologist, conducted the training and assisted 6th MDG dermatologist, Maj. Thomas (Dr.) Beachkofsky, in showcasing the unique capabilities of this specialized clinic.

Hivnor has served at the Air Force's premier healthcare, medical education and research, and readiness wing for the past 11 years.

“One of my earliest cases was a special forces Soldier who was injured and developed compartment syndrome in his arm,” Hivnor said. “For someone who lives on the front lines, not being able to do push-ups or grip anything was very difficult for him. He realized the severity when his little girl was walking along a curb, about to trip and fall, and he couldn’t physically grip or hold on to her enough to keep her from falling.”

After three laser treatments, the patient had most of his grip strength back, and could do push-ups again.

“These are the moments where I think this is all worth it,” said Hivnor. “Helping patients improve their quality of life is what it’s all about.”

Together, Hivnor and Beachkofsky demonstrated multiple methods for delivering a combination of topical and intralesional medications with simultaneous laser skin resurfacing to help restore functionality and reduced symptoms associated with scarred skin.

During the training visit, Hivnor and the MacDill team used the techniques on a Soldier with a scar from a cancer surgery, which limited full range of motion in his neck. After less than an hour with the team, and only minutes of laser treatment, the Soldier turned his head in amazement. His range of motion had already improved and his discomfort had resolved.

“Upon my arrival to the 6th MDG, my team identified a need to bring this capability to our local patient population. Subsequently we worked closely with our chain of command and acquired the necessary medications and equipment to make it a reality,” Beachkofsky said. “This training and spreading of medical resources is a wonderful example of how the 59th MDW is striving to provide an invaluable skillset to their Airmen, and throughout the Air Force Medical Service.”

Within the DOD, there are few facilities with the capability and expertise to perform these procedures. This includes the 59th MDW, San Diego Naval Hospital in California and Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

The 6th MDG will join the list above and bring the resources to perform these procedures to a new market and expand care to the military population in Florida.

“The type of care we provide for this unique patient population is unfortunately not widely available in most civilian markets,” Hivnor said. “This is unfortunate, as these treatments have been showing to significantly improve the quality of life for these patients that have already suffered so much. We want to expand the capabilities of dermatology laser clinics wherever we can, making procedures available in more locations to minimize travel for the patients. It falls to those of us within military medicine to ensure we provide the unique care our Soldiers, Sailors Airmen and Marines deserve.”