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New departments have come to USAF Hospital Langley: Part 2 Pulmonology

  • Published
  • By Monica Miller Rodgers
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley has been identified by the Air Force Surgeon General as one of seven Air Force Medical Service currency platforms, a full-spectrum location to receive and provide for patient needs in an encompassing medical environment. To fulfill the currency platform plan, USAF Hospital Langley is adding new specialty departments to cover all conditions in patient care. Throughout 2012, The Peninsula Warrior will feature these new departments as they become operational.

Another clinic operating in a temporary location on the third floor of U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley is diagnosing and treating patients, but this time the problems affect the respiratory tract.

The Pulmonology Department opened its (make-shift) doors Feb. 16. From asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and other chest-related issues, the in- and out-patient clinic is seeing seven to eight patients a day, and is on track to perform approximately 150 procedures a month.

Dr. Edwin Cruz, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron pulmonologist, assesses patients' overall respiratory health, and oversees the testing procedures of three pulmonology technicians. The technicians run daily studies, such as total lung capacity and long diffusion to evaluate the functions of the lungs and airways. The staff is rounded out by one administrative assistant.

Respiratory therapy and preventive medicine services, such as asthma management and patient education, are also provided at the clinic. One of the new services the staff is preparing to offer is a test that will benefit many patients, especially local pilots and the flight doctors attending them. The VO2 Max study is an exercise test that measures the body's capacity to efficiently use oxygen, in turn assessing the physical fitness level of an individual.

"(With these services) we can encompass the in- and out-patient now, bringing in more specialized care," said Staff Sgt. Maranda Oliver, Pulmonology Department NCO in charge. "Having (the pulmonologist) helps us bring more procedures to the clinic, in turn keeping the patient load here, and not having to refer patients off base."

The clinic will also be able to handle limited emergency cases, as Cruz will be on a periodic on-call status. Acute pulmonology disorders include asthma attacks, massive pulmonary embolism and other respiratory distress symptoms.

The clinic only sees adult patients by referral from their primary care providers, so appointments cannot be made directly through the appointment line. The clinic is opened Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. According to Col. Jerry Wizda, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron commander, the clinic is striving to eventually accept referrals from civilian primary care providers for those eligible for treatment at USAF Hospital Langley.

"As the service matures, we're actually going to extend services to primary care managers downtown for patients 65 and older," said Wizda. "(The Pulmonology Department) is definitely a building block, a critical piece in our currency platform."