AETC surgeon general visits 42nd MDG

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- On the second leg of a 13-base tour, the Air Education and Training Command surgeon general paid a visit to the 42nd Medical Group Wednesday.

Col. Peggy Matarese was joined by the AETC chief of enlisted medical force, Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Lambing, in touring the base's medical facility. She has only been in her new job about three months, and as one of her duties, she and the chief are visiting all 13 military health facilities in the command.

"I saw the third floor and part of the second floor this morning, and this is a beautiful facility," she said. "The environment is spectacular, and that's reflected in the attitudes of the people who work here. Everyone seems very happy."

Colonel Matarese said one of the goals of the tour was to look for new ideas that might help solve problems at other medical facilities, and she has found some new ideas at the 42nd MDG.

"I enjoy meeting particularly the young medical group members," she said. "They have a different perspective and are not shy about sharing their ideas."

The colonel also had the opportunity to have lunch and talk with some of the Maxwell doctors, and she was looking forward to "seeing them in action." She said she hopes her visit will have an impact on 42nd MDG members, as it is her wish they understand she cares about their work and needs and is here to help.

Chief Lambing said it was great to see a medical facility that is so good at balancing its local mission and its Global War on Terrorism mission. He said the visit has helped the colonel and him evaluate their policies to determine if they are the best policies or can be improved.

"This clinic is outstanding not only from a leadership position but also as a facility," the chief said. "The 42nd team won 12 of the AETC Annual Medical Service Awards, and won six of seven awards at the wing level. These honors highlight not only the individual but also the team. That is important because it is at the team level that patient care is improved, and I'm hearing outstanding things about how good the patient care is at this facility."

The chief said he had a two-hour meeting with 42nd MDG enlisted members and was very impressed. He said they have many of the same concerns about patient care that he hears from other medical groups around the Air Force.

"The 42nd is doing some fantastic things that are making an impact throughout the world," Chief Lambing said. "Not only involving the Global War on Terrorism, but also in their humanitarian missions."

Colonel Matarese said she too was impressed with the medical group's humanitarian efforts. She learned during her visit that two of the doctors have extended their tour of duty because of the opportunity to participate in the humanitarian missions.

The colonel was also impressed with the relationship the 42nd MDG has with the local community.

"As good as the 42nd is, they do not have everything. They have done a great job of working with the community to obtain the other things they need," Colonel Matarese said.

She said she wanted to complement Col. Diana Atwell, 42nd MDG commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Rainne Taylor, the group's superintendent, for their expert handling of the medical group.

"They run the facility in an exceptional fashion. During my visit, I've heard the term customer service used multiple times, and I've seen it addressed. I also hear it is addressed on a daily basis," Colonel Matarese said.