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Fort Irwin DENTAC strives to reach readiness perfection

Image of patient getting a dental exam. Click to open a larger version of the image. Army Master Sgt. Paul Blue, an observer, trainer/controller with Operations Group at the National Trainer Center, receives his annual dental exam by Army Maj. Sung Kim, a comprehensive dentist with Fort Irwin's Shuttleworth Dental Clinic and Weed Army Community Hospital, at Fort Irwin, Calif. Fort Irwin Dental Clinic recently achieved 97% "green" status on dental, meaning 97% of Soldiers were deployment ready as far as dental.

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The Fort Irwin Dental Clinic staff recently held a dental rodeo aboard Ft. Irwin in California.

During the event, DENTAC providers examined more than 200 service members, leading to a 97% green status on dental for the installation.

Green means that a service member has had the necessary dental screenings and is cleared to deploy.

The push came prior to the hospital’s transition to MHS GENESIS, the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record, which went live on September 26.

As the hospital staff continues to adjust to the new system, most appointments changed from 20-30-minute appointments to one-hour appointments, limiting the number of patients seen in a day.

To stay on track for dental exams, Army Staff Sgt. Fisamuel Reggans, the senior dental noncommissioned officer for the dental clinic, reached out to the brigade-level command sergeant majors on post to garner their support in getting as many service members through the dental rodeo as possible.

Dental clinic staff examined service members on a walk-in basis the first week, and also scheduled the units on post for different days the second week.

To accommodate an entire installation, the dental clinic extended its hours and Army Col. Elliott Bermudez, the dental clinic commander, even jumped in to perform exams.

“If I could make time, everybody could make time because this was a priority for us,” he explained.

DENTAC staff took many COVID-19 precautions, to include wearing N95 masks and face shields, in addition to their regular surgical masks and eyewear. They also only used disposable instruments to lower the risk of any cross contamination. Dental clinic staff also ensured physical distancing protocols in the waiting room.

While the 97% green status could shift at any point in a matter of 30 days, Bermudez, Reggans and their team are staying proactive to support the Ft. Irwin soldiers, meet the Army standards and maintain a readiness posture. 

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