WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Following last month’s successful unit effectiveness inspection, locally-developed forms created as part of the 445th’s Fetal Protection Program may be benchmarked for the Air Force Reserve Command-mandated program across other bases, according to program managers.
“This is the only tracking service we use for pregnant members in reserve units,” says Master Sgt. Holly Siripavaket, NCO in charge of FPP at the 445th. “It’s mandatory for reserve bases to have this, but a lot of people don’t know about it.”
Air Force Reserve Command Instruction 141-104 details the requirements of the reserve FPP. FPP is administered by the Aerospace Medicine Squadron and falls under the nursing services umbrella.
“We’re inspected, just like any other program,” explains Senior Airman Bonnie Newhall, program manager. “We just had our UEI in June, and we were spotless.”
The inspectors coined Newhall as a result of her efforts to improve the program, under the guidance of Siripavaket.
“One of the things the inspectors told us was ‘Keep it going because you’ve got a good thing going here. Don’t lose it.’ They said they’ve seen other programs fall apart after personnel changeover due to deployments, separations, retirements, things like that,” Newhall says.
Pregnant members are monitored throughout their pregnancy and for one year postpartum. At any given time, Siripavaket and Newhall may be responsible for six to 20 actively pregnant women and an additional 45 to 90 newly postpartum women, wingwide.
“We created our own documents to help us track all the required information for each member,” says Newhall, who volunteered for this additional duty nearly five years ago. “The IG mentioned that our forms are really detailed and well done. They said, ‘We want a copy of this.’”
At the inspection’s conclusion, leadership mentioned they were considering using the forms Siripavaket created as a benchmark for all FPP in the AFRC, Siripavaket says.
For Newhall, though, it’s about more than just paperwork. She says her goal is to be a welcoming, supportive figure for all women in the program.
“I make sure that they’re briefed on everything and are aware of everything,” says the former teacher and mother of two. “I answer all their questions and I give them informational handouts about things like unit training assembly childcare and local lactation consultants.”
When Newhall traveled the East Coast with the psychological health advocacy program, she says, she was shocked to encounter numerous units with no functioning FPP.
“‘Who is taking care of these girls?’ I asked. We need people to be more aware of what the protocol is and what their responsibilities are,” she says. “We’re here to take care of you, not just take your information and push you out the door.”