Army Tests Dental Capabilities, Increasing Readiness
Elrod, Helen M., Warrior - Citizen
FORT HUNTER LIGGET, CALIF.-A dental element of the Rapid Response Reserve Unit (R3U) at Fort Hunter Liggett, tested their ability to provide pre-mobilization dental care to Soldiers in a field training environment in August 2008.
The 7222nd Medical Support Unit (MSU) from Tampa, Fla., was called to deliver dentistry services in the field to the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan, to train themselves and to find the capacity of the program based on an expanding mission scenario. Originally, the program was to address only the dental screening of Soldiers. After evaluating the resources in place, Col. Les Carroll, U.S. Army Reserve Command deputy chief of staff for operations and Lt. Col. Murray Kramer, commander of the 7222nd MSU, incorporated dental treatments to maximize the impact of the program without increasing costs.
"We wanted to see how we could use our assets and dental force," said Carroll. "We are building a new paradigm... We took this target of opportunity with the 100th Battalion training at Fort Hunter Liggett to test the concept and look at all the possibilities."
One limiting factor in the eventual deployment of a Soldier is dental preparedness. The pilot program now includes dental screening and treatment to Soldiers on location, even in a field environment. The mobile asset is not limited to using existing structures or equipment because the entire medical facility is housed in self contained mobile semi-trailer units.
The team also created criteria for data collection that will later be used to help evaluate mission success and cost effectiveness assessing all components from manpower hours and resources to deployability of the force.
"We are making a difference right now. We are able to identify the dental problem and fix it," said Kramer emphasizing the program's merits. "We are taking Soldiers that could potentially not be mobilized and ensuring they are mobilization ready."
Operating out of two trailers each outfitted with an X-ray machine, three dental chairs and a full complement of dental equipment, the 7222nd MSU screened 185 patients and provided over $126,000 in dental treatments not including the value of preventative dentistry delivered. Of those original patients, 170 were moved from categories three and four (non-deployable) to categories one and two (deployable). Kramer stated that upon evaluating the capacity of the staff and process, an additional 300 Soldiers could have been seen with a few modifications. …