LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Capt. Kathleen Shurr, 47th Medical Operations Squadron family health physician, was chosen by wing leadership to be the “XLer” of the week, for the week of Feb. 11, 2019, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
The “XLer” award, presented by Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, is given to those who consistently make outstanding contributions to their unit and the Laughlin mission.
Shurr, acting as the only family health provider, led two teams of primary care managers to ensure Laughlin’s medical needs are met, even with a significant gap in manpower in their practice. She provided more than 80 appointments for the base, 15 physical health assessments and 35 telephone conferences.
“We’re the general practitioners—the frontline of medicine,” she said. “Every time anyone comes in with an issue or problem, we are the generalist doctors who diagnose, treat, and refer patients to specialists who know what to do with those symptoms.”
Being credentialed in providing care across a wide age range, Shurr stepped up to provide care for children seen at the clinic when her coworker fell ill, thus preventing a gap in more thirty appointments of vital coverage to children on base.
“I can take care of anyone from an infant all the way up to dealing with death and hospice. That’s what family physicians are all about—a broad knowledge range to help out the entire family,” she said. “I’m certified and know what I’m doing in pediatrics so I can fill that gap and take ownership of the pediatric patients on base to ensure they are given a good-quality level of care.”
While one of her patients showed up for an appointment after a motor vehicle accident, Shurr noticed after revisiting brain scans that one of the patients had a benign brain mass. Catching the mass in early stages, she set the patient up for removal of the mass, averting possible death and earning her the 47 MDG’s “Good Catch” award.
“Anytime I see a patient for the first time, I like to get their full background so I don’t miss anything,” she said. “The good news was that he wasn’t showing any symptoms at the time, and his neurological functions were fine. It was more of a random finding after getting an MRI from the motor vehicle accident.”
Shurr, along with the rest of family health, is actively working with other agencies in the med group to provide quicker coverage for more common ailments or acute health issues.
She has worked with the pharmacy to provide convenient over-the-counter medications for common cold and flu symptoms, and with the labs department to provide quick results for pregnancy tests and other ailments.
For her help in providing access to care for both Airmen and their families in the midst of a manpower shortage, identifying a potentially deadly brain mass, and working to synergize the medical group’s agencies, Shurr was awarded the “XLer of the Week.”