Earlier this month, Lt. Col. Larry Patterson and Col. Luis Rivero, Deputy Commanders for United States Army Medical Department Activity Command here, went on the air at KNTC “The Heat” to answer questions from the NTC and Fort Irwin community. They covered a wide range of subjects, including West Nile Virus, flu shots and questions about operations at the Mary Walker Clinic.
West Nile Virus
Although there have been cases of West Nile Virus in California, the virus is most prevalent around the middle of the country.
“We have some activity near the middle of the state in the central valley region” said Rivero. “The disease is transmitted by mosquito, which is one of the best things for Fort Irwin; we don’t have mosquitoes in a very large concentration, so West Nile virus is a low risk for Fort Irwin proper.”
Rivero offered some prevention methods for people heading to area where they might be exposed to mosquitoes. Mosquitoes feed more at dawn and dusk, so avoid areas prone to mosquitoes at these times. Use insect repellent and wear your sleeves down. Be sure to apply repellent to all exposed areas, including the back of your neck and ears.
The first shipment of this year’s flu vaccine has arrived and is available at the Mary Walker Clinic on a walk-in basis. Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine every year. Everyone who works or lives at Fort Irwin can get the flu vaccine.
Off Post Medical Appointments
Travel expenses for off-post medical services are available if the distance is 100 miles or more from post. Travel expenses, including lodging, can be paid. Servicemembers should submit their request to their unit; Family members can submit their request to the MEDDAC managed care department.
Departures by medical providers during the summer (some planned and some unexpected) caused longer than usual wait times for appointments. Some of the replacement providers have arrived and three more key personnel were scheduled to arrive by mid September. The increase in staff also included behavioral health professionals. The expanded staff will now be able to treat adults, as well as children, on post starting Oct. 1.
Pharmacy Wait Times
“Pharmacy wait times are long because the staff is doing all the checks on dosages and medications,” said Patterson. “We’re looking at average wait times of about 15 or 20 minutes.”
Patterson added that the best days to come in for prescriptions are Thursdays and Fridays. The pharmacy is busiest on Monday and Tuesday, so wait times could be longer. He also said customers can use the Express Scripts system and have their prescriptions mailed to their address.