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Gateway team takes innovation training to SAMMC

  • Published
  • By Shannon Carabajal
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

With a proven track record and increasing demand for its services, the 59th Medical Wing Gateway Innovation Center deployed its mobile training team to the San Antonio Military Medical Center at nearby Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston April 25–29.


Thirty-one students, including 10 from other military treatment facilities around the U.S., learned innovative problem-solving techniques at the week-long course designed to help students and their sections work smarter, better and faster.


“This is something we’ve been looking forward to; there’s huge interest from our SAMMC team and others around the Air Force (for the course),” said Master Sgt. William Rapoza, operations NCO for the 59th MDW Chief Medical Officer and the Gateway Academy and Innovation Center.


The center provides instruction on innovative problem solving techniques, inspires people to challenge the status quo, and teaches leadership skills that foster empowerment, trust, and respect.


Since the first class graduated in January 2015, more than 300 Gateway graduates at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at JBSA-Lackland have been the catalysts behind 73 Rapid Improvement Events, more than 200 “Just Do It” projects, and 394 Lean Daily Management projects, saving the Air Force over $9.1 million, said Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Arthur, Gateway Innovation Center NCO in charge.


“The overall goal of the Gateway is to get people looking (at processes) with a different set of eyes. When students graduate, they go back to their units with an enhanced skill set. They’ll have new problem-solving techniques, some new tools, and they can go back and look at their processes (and look for ways to) add quality and add value for the patient,” Arthur explained.


Studying the same curriculum as the class offered at Wilford Hall, students in the mobile class received instruction from a myriad of experts in innovation, process improvement, leadership and customer service.

“The class allowed me to gain more experience working with Air Force members, and I was able to see how we can improve processes in our joint work centers over here at SAMMC,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Wright, NCO in charge of education and training for the SAMMC Nutrition Care Department.


“Also, with the course being held here it made it more accessible for Army personnel to attend,” Wright added.


The mobile course takes seven days to complete: five at the mobile location, and a two-day wrap-up session at Wilford Hall.


It’s the same curriculum with one exception. “During the (regular) nine-day course, we plug in project time. With the (mobile) class, we take the project time out,” Rapoza said.


“Students first take the five-day class and then, in two months, they come to Wilford Hall for the two-day wrap-up. They’ll tour the (San Antonio) Toyota plant, do the clinical research tour, and brief their projects,” he added.


“As a young Airman, I am constantly told to be an innovator thinker; the Gateway actually gives me the tools to be one,” said Airman 1st Class June Bell, from the 47th Medical Group at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. “The Gateway also showed me how to come up with a plan, execute and pass on the information to others.”


The 59th MDW will offer the next mobile class this summer at the Medical Education and Training Center on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. The team will continue to improve the course based on student feedback, and it hopes to receive funding to carry the course to other Air Force military treatment facilities.


Bringing the Gateway class to people outside of the 59th MDW and San Antonio will bring the Air Force a little closer to achieving the perfect patient experience, said Lt. Col. Stacey Van Orden, chief of the 59th MDW Business Innovation Center, and High Reliability Operations deputy chief.


“Individual and unit processes are part of the bigger picture. You might not see patients on a day-to-day basis, but what you do impacts that perfect patient experience,” she said. “The idea of the Gateway is just to enhance that. Everything we do serves the patient; that’s why we’re here.”


For more information about the Gateway Innovation Center, call 210-292-8303.