Caring for Airmen means caring for their families

Accidents happen, and where you go for help can make all the difference. This is a story of a young man who became one of the 88th Medical Group’s most frequent customers.

Six-year old Vincent Machi was playing outside when he fell from a playset and landed on his arm. As luck would have it, a friend and neighbor, Lt. Col. Thad O’Campo, a physician at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, was nearby.

O’Campo assessed the situation and his readiness skills kicked into action. He used a piece of cardboard and an Ace bandage to make a splint for Vincent’s arm so that it would be stabilized until he could be treated further.

“Dr. O’Campo was amazing. He took control of the situation and completely calmed all of us down just through his demeanor and the thoughtfulness of his care,” said Christina Machi, Vincent’s mother and an Air Force veteran.

Christina Machi contacted Capt. Brian Machi to get his opinion on where to go so that Vincent could be further examined. Capt. Machi knew that the Emergency Room at WPMC would not only provide great care to his son, but that it may also have a shorter wait time than other local emergency rooms. Thus began Vincent’s summer with the 88 MDG.

After arriving at the ER, Vincent was examined by the on-call physician assistant. The ER team was impressed with O’Campo’s make-shift splint from the start but did place Vincent’s arm in a more traditional splint and decided that he should be referred to the nearby 88 MDG Orthopedics Clinic.

Maj. Michael Shaw, a PA in the clinic, determined that an X-ray was necessary to rule out a break, and Vincent was able to walk just around the corner to Radiology.

Having already been a patient in the Pediatrics Clinic for routine shots, physicals, well-checks and other illnesses, Vincent and his two siblings were familiar with the hospital and by this time he was becoming a VIP. According to Vincent, the friendly and personal attention he received made his arm hurt less even though “it was pretty painful and hurt a lot”.

After X-rays proved that the arm was indeed broken it was time for a cast. Vincent was tended to by Orthopedic Technician Staff Sgt. David Burch in the Fracture Clinic. This clinic within a clinic allows for expedited care as its sole focus is on fractures of the upper and lower extremities. Burch estimates that they see two to four pediatric patients and another 45 adult patients per week in the Fracture Clinic.

Six weeks later, it was time to check the arm and remove the cast. It was back to WPMC and back to the Radiology Clinic where the technicians decided that Vincent’s arm was not at 100 percent. Next stop: the Brace Shop.

The Brace Shop, his “favorite place in the entire hospital,” was able to fit Vincent with a soft brace to keep the arm stable while it continued to heal but also allow for more freedom than the cast. Having three small children, Christina Machi was relieved that all the services Vincent needed were in one building and the appointments could all be scheduled in sequence.

Across her son’s series of visits, she was always able to reach out to the primary care managers in the Pediatric Clinic when she had questions or concerns. Because all the clinics are co-located, communication flowed easily.

“Many people do not realize the variety of pediatric conditions we can treat at Wright-Patterson, ranging from hospitalization for pneumonia or appendicitis to mending broken bones. The benefit to our pediatric patients coming to Wright-Patterson for their routine and emergency is care is often they will be evaluated by someone from their primary care team who already has access to their entire medical record. Having this continuity is better for patient safety,” said Maj. (Dr.) Neha Patel, Pediatric Flight commander.

Neha also added, “For the more complicated conditions, we may not have the resources to handle but our close partnership with Dayton Children’s and their specialty providers allows us to get our patients to the right place if it is not Wright-Patterson. We have worked hard to make Wright-Patterson a comfortable place for our littlest patients, and we look forward to continuing these services.”

With two weeks in the brace, Vincent came back to WPMC again for follow-ups in the Ortho Clinic and in Radiology and was finally given the all clear by Shaw.

Vincent is now back to seeing the Pediatric team for routine care and back to playing the sports he loves.

The 88 MDG mission is to provide care and readiness training to active members of the Air Force, but caring for Airmen also means caring for their families. WPMC pediatric and adolescent services are vast and work in conjunction with all specialties for the care of children and teens alike.

About the Author