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New $57 million medical facility cares for military community

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

Air Force leaders and community members attended the new 20th Medical Group clinic ribbon cutting ceremony, Feb. 24.

Approximately 100 individuals attended, including Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark Ediger, Air Force surgeon general, and Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Sean Murphy, Air Combat Command surgeon general.

The new $57 million medical facility, in conjunction with local specialty providers, is now prepared to support the medical needs of approximately 31,000 eligible beneficiaries.

Of the region’s eligible beneficiaries, there are approximately 12,500 active-duty service members, retirees and family members currently enrolled with the 20th MDG for primary care.

The new facility will provide the same services previously offered, to include: family health, women's health, mental health, physical therapy, optometry, pharmacy and laboratory services.

However, its design will be able to meet the functional needs of patients better than the past building by improving patient flow, said Lt. Col. James Ulrich, 20th MDG administrator.

The previous 1960s era facility was built as an in-patient hospital, but phased out in-patient functions, such as deliveries, by 2001. Since then, local military members and their families have used partnered providers for those services.

“We don’t do in-patient surgeries or anything like that, so that’s where we work with community partners,” said Ulrich. “We work together to make sure all of our patients’ needs are met. That’s critical because that allows us to bring more people onto the base, which helps out the community.”

Having these medical services available in the local area allows families that require specialty care, such as those enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program, to come to Shaw when they would otherwise not be able to.

The local area providing a variety of medical services also helps the mission of the 20th Fighter Wing, said Ulrich. By referring individuals to medical services in the local area, Airmen spend less time commuting and more time impacting the mission.

“(Community providers) have been super supportive of the times where we have had to send our folks downtown,” said Chief Master Sgt. Diena Mosely, 20th MDG superintendent. “They’ve received them with open arms with no interruption to patient care.”

As the 20th MDG prepares for the second phase of the project, replacing the old building with a parking lot, they are prepared to provide care to Airmen, Soldiers, retirees and family members in a building tailored to patient needs.