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Each year, hundreds of Fort Benning parents stand in long lines in the halls of Martin Army Community Hospital for the sole purpose of ensuring that their school-age children are medically qualified to participate in high school and middle school sports. This year was different.
The first of three school and sports physical examinations took place Saturday at the hospital and according to some parents, if the first day is an indicator for the remaining two events, everything will be silky smooth.
Jennie Miller and her husband, Dwight came with their son, Jalen. According to Dwight Miller, it took them about 35 minutes to complete the process.
"It went pretty good. It took us about 35 minutes from door to finish, and that's a big difference from years past," he said. "We got in and saw the nurse, and she took his vitals. Then the doctor came in and checked him out. He said all of Jalen's shots were up-to-date, and overall, the process flowed better. Nobody is backtracking or going back up the hallway in the same direction that we just came from."
"It's a big difference," added Jennie. "I work for Martin Army and in previous years, it would have taken a super-long time to finish the physical. "I think they're all doing a great job."
Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Rios, who works in the hospital's patient administration department, assisted with the school and sports physical event July 16. Rios said the operation ran considerably well, and without the challenges usually associated with opening day.
"It's gone pretty smooth. We were expecting a lot of people and a lot of chaos, but actually it's well organized and I like it. We've had a rather nice flow. All of the appointments have shown so far and we have a lot of people doing what they're supposed to do."
Toya Tucker, who brought her children out to have their physicals done, agreed.
"I think everything was excellent. This is my third year coming out here for the physicals and this one is the best," Tucker said. "I would like to thank all of the MACH employees for sacrificing their Saturday to help the parents in getting these physicals done."
According to Salina Upton, a MACH nurse and one of the event's organizers, the intent was to ensure that patients were not faced with inconveniences that were associated with the previous year's school and sports physical events. She said having an efficient and well-organized operation was their goal when planning began months ago.
"I am very relieved to know that everyone is pleased with the way this operation is going. I had a team of folks who helped with the process and everyone worked great together. This is a team effort," she said.
Upton said some of the changes that were implemented included: changing the flow of traffic to prevent patients from "bottlenecking," during the process; they used more space than last year; and they also devoted more time to planning. She said there's always room for improvement.
"There were still a couple of fires that we had to put out. We're discussing that now, so that we won't have to deal with those issues in the future. Overall, it was a good first day," Upton said.
Ashley Morris and Denicia Sumbry, who also helped organize the operation, echoed Upton's sentiment.
"It was a great first day," they said, in unison.
The next school and sports physical events are scheduled for July 30 and Aug. 6.