Family Practice Clinic shows off new digs

The newly-renovated Family Practice Clinic at the 82nd Medical Group is now open for business following a grand opening Nov. 2. Judy Rinehart, above, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, takes Tech. Sgt. Gene Truman’s blood pressure during a visit Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tonnette Thompson)

The newly-renovated Family Practice Clinic at the 82nd Medical Group is now open for business following a grand opening Nov. 2. Judy Rinehart, above, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, takes Tech. Sgt. Gene Truman’s blood pressure during a visit Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tonnette Thompson)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Not so long ago, someone attending an appointment at the 82nd Family Practice Clinic could expect a close, personable experience - in a negative way. 

A cramped waiting and reception area, where every word spoken between the customer and receptionist could be heard by all, was followed by a hallway maze to an exam room clustered so tightly with other rooms that the most intimate doctor-patient confidentialities might again be overheard. 

With the opening of the newly-renovated Family Practice Clinic on Nov. 2, such situations are a thing of the past. 

"It's more than a facelift. This is a shining example of making a good first impression," said Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux, 82nd Training Wing commander, in attendance at the opening. 

The Family Practice Clinic is responsible for providing medical care to thousands of Sheppard active duty members, dependents and retirees. With the 6,300-square-foot makeover, the 82nd Medical Group is better equipped to handle the load. 

Several personnel working in the new clinic expressed positive feedback on the changes. 

"It's brighter, not so dark and depressing. It's so much better for morale," said Loise Grate, health care administrator. 

"Our previous office was dark, old, crowded. The patients waiting were maybe a couple of feet from the ones at the desk, so there was no privacy - and some of these people had to tell us some pretty intimate things," Ms. Grate continued. "Plus you had three people in reception, all trying to work around each other in that little corner. I had to squeeze past patients just to get to the copier." 

Now the reception and waiting areas are separated by a divider, and both areas are far more spacious, allowing more comfortable movement for patients and staff alike. 

The arrangement of the new rooms not only allows for highly increased privacy and comfort, but it's also more efficient for the workers. 

"The clinic is set up more like a team concept now," said Master Sgt. Angela Carter, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Family Practice and Fast Track clinics. "In one space, the doctor has his office, that doctor's technician and nurse share an office and the doctor's exam room is there. Providers don't have to go down the hall searching for their tech, or go hunt for an exam room. Everything is localized, promoting better communication and less confusion." 

"In the original setup, nurses would share rooms with other nurses, techs with other techs," said Tech Sgt. Jennifer Wilson, medical administrative technician. "This is much more sensible, and convenient." 

"We have approximately 2,000 more square feet than we did before. My favorite thing is to watch people - both patients and the staff - getting lost in here," Sergeant Wilson said. 

There are, however, some drawbacks. 

"Before, if a customer had been in the waiting area for over 30 minutes, we could just look at them and think 'that guy's been here awhile,' and see to them. Now we can't see who's out there or guess at how long they've been waiting," said Senior Airman Krystal Briggs-Lide, who works in reception. There is a sign instructing customers who've waited more than 30 minutes to return to reception. 

"But patient care is a whole lot better," Airman Briggs-Lide continued. "We have more slots now, which means more time for each patient, and more appointment availability."
The FPC is directly down the hall from the main clinic entrance.