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Pathogen Pathfinders

Barksdale Air Force Base, La. -- Carefully pulling on a navy blue lab coat with hints of camouflage peeking from underneath, an Airman gently places a test tube into a machine. Attempting to diagnose the cause of a patient’s discomfort, he patiently waits while taking notes.

Laboratory technicians with the 2nd Medical Group aim to help keep Team Barksdale healthy by performing annual tests on patients and staying on top of potential health issues through preventive health care.

“Our mission is taking care of people,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Roman, 2nd MDG medical laboratory flight chief. “The exams that we do with diagnosing our patients help support the medical team.”

Through the process of collecting and testing specimens, laboratory technicians help medical providers avoid what is known as “shotgun medicine” meaning that when a patient comes in showing symptoms relating to different illnesses, the doctor can order lab work to determine what is wrong with the patient instead of treating for multiple ailments.

Shotgun medicine would not be the only consequence if the pristine lab were to disappear. “Cost would go up,” Senior Airman Josef Ansorge 2nd MDG laboratory technician said, “we would have to send samples to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio or Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, for testing and that is usually a few dollars for each test sent.”

The lab preformed 48 different tests on-site and within the past 12 months the lab has collected almost 155,000 samples and tested over 118,000 of those in-house, which resulted in numerous diagnoses that went on to help patients.

“We center our patient care on the results we get from the lab,” said Major Nature Hicks, 2nd Medical Group, disease management. “They provide us with information that gets pulled up into our matrix and that provides us with a score so we can see and track a patient’s condition.”

While Team Barksdale continues to fly, fight and win, these pathogen pathfinders will continue to hunt the enemy that invades the body.