By Thea Skinner
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
A 12-phase, $15 million renovation to the 21st Medical Group clinic was celebrated at an Evening at the Clinic Open House on Peterson Air Force Base June 17.
“With the tremendous amount of military growth in Colorado Springs, we need to ensure we have sufficient clinical space to treat our patient population,” said Col. John Sell, 21st Medical Group commander. “When people are sick and come to us for care, we must provide them an aesthetic and professional medical environment. This major renovation is a step in the right direction — the look and feel of the clinic for both our beneficiaries and the health care professionals who take care of them.”
In wartime, medical assistance such as that of the 21st Medical Group and surrounding health care partners in Colorado Springs is key to sustaining servicemember’s and their families.
The Air Force of today is not the Air Force it was, because the Air Force has more medics, flight technicians and others deploying than ever before, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Deppe, Air Force Space Command vice commander and keynote speaker at the open house.
Four areas at the clinic were expanded and grew by approximately 20 percent, with the Women’s Health Clinic growing by almost 40 percent. Expanded areas include the Women’s Health Clinic, Flight Medicine and Public Health.
“We have grown more than 500 (patients) in the past 12 months in beneficiary population,” said 1st Lt. Denise Miranda, 21st Medical Group, group practice manager, who assists in running the clinic and scheduling. “Our staff will continue to grow as our beneficiary population grows.”
The clinic now has more space for beneficiaries and staff. Wait times have also decreased since the clinic renovation was completed.
“People are able to be seen quicker, because more rooms are available,” Lieutenant Miranda said.
Colonel Sell lauded the 500-person MDG staff as a strong customer-focused team.
The building’s original 1972 construction accommodated 6,000 beneficiaries.
The modern 21st Medical Group cares for more than 24,000 patients, and is postured to serve 27,000 per year, Colonel Sell said.
“As a team, our goal, regardless of rank or color of uniform, is to provide timely, quality and customer focused health care. We are in the customer care business,” he said.
The evening celebration came on the heels of Colonel Sell’s briefing to the Air Force Surgeon General and Health Executive Council in Washington, D.C., June 12, referencing the team concept of health care in Colorado Springs with the 10th Medical Group at the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson Evans Army Community Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Eastern Colorado Health care System.
The 21st Medical Group is a primary care platform, which relies on local specialty care providers at Memorial Health care System, Penrose-Saint Francis Health Services, Cedar Springs, and TRIWEST, he said.
“Support from leadership is crucial. I’m very grateful for the support our wing leadership gives us and to the AFSPC Command Surgeon for procuring the dollars to make the plans a reality,” Colonel Sell said.
The evening culminated with a tour of the newly renovated Mental Health Center. The building’s services and staff moved from building 1171 within the base library, to building 725, the former Enlisted Club. The upgrades to the Mental Health Clinic are estimated at $1.8 million. The center’s corresponding 27-member staff now operates a new 12,000 square foot clinic with warm artwork, and natural lighting in psychiatrist rooms and hallways.
The 21st Medical Group’s main clinic is located in Building 959. The main clinic’s renovations began in November 2007 and were completed in April 2009. In 2012 another military construction project is slated for the dental clinic, with a new main clinic estimated for fiscal year 2025.