Military News

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Dental Squadron innovates

by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --  -- The 375th Dental Squadron has been finding new ways to improve their processes and the numbers are showing it.

They're No. 1 in Air Mobility Command for the past six months and No. 4 Air Force-wide for their high Class I rate. Class I is when a patient is deployment ready and no further treatment is needed. Out of the 75 dental clinics in the Air Force, they have been ranked as No. 5 in patient satisfaction.

"To have that ranking, stemming from the 500 patient comments they receive per quarter, is an accomplishment," said Tech. Sgt. David Chesko, 375th DS Clinical Flight Chief.

"The level of customer service provided by the clinic not only ensures patient safety and saves valuable time for Team Scott's members but it keeps patients happy and wanting to return. What we ask of our active duty is to maintain their Medical Readiness which, for dental, includes getting a pre-deployment clearance exam and any routine care that may be an emergency in the next 12 months. What we provide the customer beyond that is making five specialty services available as well as four residents meeting the treatment needs of our community," said Chesko.

They created an Innovation Board to streamline the communication of viable clinic improvement ideas and make them a reality.

The 375th DS commander, Col. Brent Sonday, and the Superintendent, Senior Master Sgt. Jill Higgins, went to a conference at a local factory and saw the organization had implemented an Innovation Board. They decided then to bring this tool into the Dental Clinic to drum up effective ideas for improving clinic operations. At any time, individuals can take the opportunity to offer up ideas and place them on the board with the certainty the ideas will be heard by leadership. Different colored cards note the progress of the idea from initial phase to development, implementation and then follow-up at a later date to check success as well as possible improvements. The members can receive time off rewards for offering and carrying out ideas.

"The incentive is there for the team to contribute, and it actually works, having multiple ideas come to fruition so far with tangible results," said Chesko.

One of the ideas from the innovation board involves ensuring specialty treatment clinics track patients specific to their section to set up appointments. This broke down the tracking from one person handling 1.2K patients to each work center handling between 100-400 patients and directly contributed to the unit's success. Chesko said they also recently acquired a Computer Aided Design Computer Aided Milling system, or CADCAM that enables them to install a fitted crown for a patient in one visit.

"Previously, Prosthodontics, such as creating crowns, took multiple appointments and more time in the dentist's chair. Now, we take a 3-D image of the tooth, take it to the machine to mill it out, polish it up, place it on and the patient is out the door. We cut the time spent in manpower by a third," said Chesko.

Senior Airman Julian Carrera, 375th DS Infection Control Coordinator and NCOIC of Dental Instrument Processing Center (DIPC), said he has seen the benefit of the innovation board through the multiple programs under his supervision.

"The innovation board has helped out with a program I used to be in charge of called Patient Safety," he said, "We implemented an idea about a way to track potential safety hazards for patients while they were in the clinic. The idea was a significant process improvement for the entire clinic and it made identification/tracking of potential safety hazards easier and more accurate. The idea has been a tremendous success and our commander really encourages the use of the board to help out our clinic."

Since the implementation of the patient safety tracker, the clinic has educated new personnel in handling their duty areas to avoid negative trends that may occur within their work centers.

Chesko said, "We use these instances as a learning tool for the staff to ensure patient safety. Doing this takes down the mishap rate, because we are informing the members what could possibly happen in the event of a mistake and has directly contributed to the Dental Clinic not having any mishaps or wrong-site treatment."

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