The 56th Medical Group Immunizations and Allergy Clinic serves 92,000 active-duty service members, their dependents and retirees at Luke Air Force Base. The clinic also serves as a training facility for five other Air Force allergy and immunization clinics.
“What we do is important to ensure the mission readiness of our Airmen,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Banghart, 56th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations clinic NCO in charge. “We ensure Airmen and their families are well taken care of. It’s tough for someone to do their job down range when they’re worried about their family.”
The allergy clinic prides itself on customer service and ensuring their patients are well taken care of.
“I enjoy connecting with patients, especially kids,” said Airman 1st Class Cassandra Saunders, 56th MDOS allergy and immunization technician. “Seeing them come in scared on their first visit, but the next time they come in they remember you and are excited to see you. Knowing you’re making a difference in their everyday lives is an amazing feeling.”
While the 56th Medical Group doesn’t often deal with emergency medicine, the allergy clinic has in the past.
“We had an individual who started new medication and just showed up,” Banghart said. “She wasn’t one of our patients, but we took her back and began treating her. She was suffering from a serious allergic reaction, so we gave her some epinephrine and continued to monitor her until she could be taken to the hospital.”
Families can get allergy shots for aerial pollens from dust, grass, trees and weeds. The clinic also does drug and food testing as well as routine and deployment vaccinations. For parents who have concerns about getting their children vaccinated or taking allergy shots, Banghart encourages them to bring their concerns to the clinic, or check with their primary care manager.
“Flu season is always big,” Banghart said. “If you got your flu shot late in the season this year, around March, you will be due for a flu shot in September. We always do a flu shot drive so active-duty Airmen can get it done quickly.”
Banghart says anyone who is concerned they may be suffering from allergies should consult their primary care manager and see if they recommend getting an allergy shot. Immunizations are on a walk-ins basis, no appointment required.
While work at the clinic can be challenging at times, Saunders finds it very rewarding.
“Even if you’re having a bad day you have to remain optimistic,” she said. “There’s always something to learn. Each patient that walks through the door can be completely different from the last one. I love working with people and being able to make a difference in that person’s everyday life.”