There are select Airmen who are given great titles: commander, first sergeant, chief. … But there is a relatively unknown title for those who save lives. They are Trusted Care Heroes.
“Trusted Care Heroes are all of us,” said Col. Brent Johnson, former 86th Medical Group commander. “The motto is, ‘Trusted care begins with me.’ We talk about that routinely at all levels. But our Trusted Care Heroes who we talk about are people who we’ve actually identified as stepping in to prevent potentially dangerous events from happening.”
While everyone in the Air Force Medial Service is considered a Trusted Care Hero, it is a very specific group who is recognized for their involvement.
The title of Trusted Care Hero comes from AFMS. AFMS recognizes Airmen who are not afraid to speak up, respect people, maximize patient value and use the zero-harm thought process.
“Being a Trusted Care Hero to me gives me a sense of pride because not only am I saving lives, but I’m improving the daily lives of my brothers and sisters in arms,” said Senior Airman Lesley Colletta, 86th Medical Squadron pharmacy technician.
AFMS recognized Colletta’s work in stopping a medicine error in a neonatal patient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit.
“(Trusted Care Heroes) are important because they maximize the best care reaching the patients,” Johnson said. “We are all about taking care of patients. We’re patient focused, patient centered.”
“I’ve never received recognition like this,” Colletta said. “In the pharmacy, we do things all the time to correct little medical errors here and there, and what I think is just doing my job turned into something much greater than I ever expected.”
Johnson said AFMS works to recognize Trusted Care Heroes as a means to thank them for the hard work they do.
Every Trusted Care Hero exhibits the traits established by the AFMS.
“In the case of Airman Colletta, she had to step up and say, ‘I think this is wrong,’” Johnson said. “And she had to keep preaching that message before someone said, ‘Yes I do think you’re correct, it is wrong and we need to fix this.’”
Johnson added that even though their Airmen are in a rank-structured environment, they need to speak up and be heard when they think someone is wrong because speaking up and respecting the patient’s needs is more important than rank.
“Respect for patients feeds into Trusted Care because we respect the patients who are coming in. We want to do great things for them. We want them to get better. And we want them to go on and do great things,” said Johnson.
Johnson went on to describe the next trait of a Trusted Care Hero, patient value. He said that because the Air Force is tax-payer funded, they are accountable to the tax payers who allow them to do everything they do. And ultimately, because patients are tax payers, the value of their dollars are important.
The last trait of a Trusted Care Hero is providing zero harm. Johnson said this was the goal, and while medical providers are human, zero bad outcomes are what they strive to achieve.
In the ever-changing world of medicine, Trusted Care Heroes are there to ensure patient care and patient needs are met. With Trusted Care Heroes in their midst, the 86 MDG is set to embrace the future of Air Force medical care.