Joint Medical Clinic opens at Joint Base Balad

Story and photo by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The Phipps Troop Medical Clinic merged with the Air Force Primary Care Clinic April 26, to become the Joint Medical Clinic at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

The Joint Medical Clinic is located at the old Air Force clinic office on Pennsylvania Avenue, across the street from the Air Force Theater Hospital.

"It's historic," said Maj. Linda Williams, a nurse practitioner and the officer in charge of the Phipps TMC.

Williams, a Fort Riley, Kan., native, said the new clinic is the medical clinic at JBB where Soldiers and Airmen will work side by side.

"We both bring something unique to the table," she said.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Nicole Owens, the Joint Medical Clinic liaison with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group, said the Army and Air Force services will be completely mixed at the new clinic, instead of just Soldiers helping Soldiers and Airmen helping Airmen.

"Having outstanding clinical knowledge and skills, the Army and Air Force will work side by side, treating the patients regardless of service branch," said Owens, a Bellevue, Mich., native.

Williams said the new clinic will utilize the theater hospital for some services, such as X-ray and radiology, services that were once provided in-house at the Phipps TMC.

"We are better utilizing available services," she said. "The service member will still be able to get full care in a timely manner."

The new clinic has expanded hours as well. The JMC is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Owens said the move was made in response to a Department of Defense directive to ensure a true joint operation and to allow the site of the Phipps TMC to be turned over to the Government of Iraq.

"As the base continues to responsibly draw down, we will continue to see buildings being turned over to the host nation," she said.

Although the transition seemed to happen quickly, the merge did not occur overnight, said Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Suggs, the noncommissioned officer in charge of medical operations with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Fayetteville, N.C., native.

"Countless hours of planning (have) gone into considering how the drawdown would affect the medical capabilities and services provided before the drawdown, and what services would be needed to maintain the standard of care currently being provided to ensure all Soldiers are properly taken care of for emergency or routine care," he said.

Suggs said they looked at the successful drawdown of medical operations at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, and Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq, as models for the transition.

The one question remaining is the name of the clinic, Williams said.

The Phipps TMC was named after Sgt. Ivory L. Phipps, an Illinois Guardsmen who died in 2004 as a result of injuries suffered from a mortar attack in Baghdad.

"We're pushing to maintain his memorial," she said.

Williams said she would like to see the new clinic bear the name Phipps Joint Medical Clinic, but nothing has been made official yet.


news photo
The Joint Medical Clinic, the first medical clinic to be staffed by both Army and Air Force providers at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, opened April 26 at JBB. The JMC replaced the Phipps Troop Medical Clinic and the Air Force Primary Care Clinic. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg)