Navy Medicine West helping Marines ‘get back in the fight’
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Todd Hack, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Commander, Navy Medicine West (NMW) Rear Adm. Christine M. Bruzek-Kohler participated in the grand opening of the newest Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapy (SMART) Clinic at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Feb. 1.
“This is the beginning of a new and right way of taking care of our Marines and our Sailors,” said Bruzek-Kohler. “The philosophy of the SMART clinic is injured today, seen today, treated today and I would say, healed very soon after that.”
The Miramar SMART Clinic will be able to treat approximately 25,000 Marines and Sailors year-round, and is the first to have a casting facility for simple fractures.
“The SMART clinics come as a result of looking at Marine Corps injuries and injury patterns at training commands,” said retired Navy Capt. Joseph Moore, sports medicine advisor to NMW. “The studies found that on average it takes 29 days to clear a member for full duty because of the time lag for scheduling appointments.
SMART clinics have been able to reduce the time to six days by getting the member seen, evaluated and then treated all at the same location. On average, only one in 16 patients we see will actually need to see an orthopedic surgeon.” Either with a consult or as a walk-in, patients with acute injuries from simple fractures to strains and sprains will be evaluated by the clinic staff which consists of two physicians, one physician assistant, four athletic trainers, three health technicians and a nurse manager.”
“We bring a multidisciplinary team to the Marine versus making the Marine travel from clinic to clinic,” said Moore.
The MCAS Miramar SMART Clinic will focus on getting Marines back to their units and ready for upcoming deployments. “The clinic is physically closer to the line community where the training takes place,” said Moore. “Our staff will have a direct liaison with a unit’s operational tempo. We have the flexibility to set aside an entire day, for instance, to evaluate an entire unit getting ready to deploy, vice sending the Marines one at a time into the clinics for pre-deployment evaluation of an injury.”
A SMART clinic concept is to treat service members like the elite athletes they are.
“Our patients are highly motivated, with a go-getting, more-is-better attitude to succeed and try to excel at what they are doing much like world class athletes,” said Vinny Comiskey, SMART clinic certified athletic trainer. “Their overuse injuries are very similar to those I saw in my 17 years of running the Sports Medicine Clinic at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.”
The SMART clinic’s main goal is to focus on managing injuries and educating patients on ways to prevent any future injuries.
“Education is a big part of our job,” said Andrew Depratti, SMART certified athletic trainer. “We give them homework, exercises to help them get better and to help them prevent getting a similar injury in the future if possible. Part of our treatment plan is to get them to back to work quicker and in better shape than before.” The Miramar SMART clinic is the 19th to open in the Navy and Marine Corps. Most are located at training areas such as Marine Corps Schools of Infantry West and East, Naval Training Center Great Lakes, both Marine Corps Recruit Depots, and the Naval Academy, to name a few.
For more information on Branch Medical Clinic Miramar visit: http://www.miramar.usmc.mil/medical.asp