HQC Health Unit helps employees stay healthy, free of charge

By John Bell

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Did you know there’s a place in the McNamara Headquarters Complex where every HQC employee can get a free flu vaccine? A free yearly cholesterol panel? And over-the-counter pain relievers?

An employee who feels stressed can even stop in for a few minutes of rest in a comfy bed.

New mothers who need a private, relaxing place for lactation? They have that too.

The HQC Health Unit (room 1739) is available free of charge to any government employee who works at any of the four HQC tenant agencies. All services are confidential; supervisors can under no circumstances obtain an employee’s medical information.

Deborah Gayle, RN, recently came on board as the Health Unit’s full-time occupational health nurse. She operates the facility every day, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Influenza shots are offered 9:00-noon Tuesdays through Thursdays every week during flu season.

Employees can also bring in their own prescription medications for help taking them  —  though separate instructions from the physician are required. Help with medications that require mixing or injecting (such as hormonal treatments, B-12 shots or allergy shots) is also available. In fact, a second nurse comes in every Tuesday 9:00-noon to help give allergy shots.

To receive services, all an employee needs to do is fill out a one-page form and receive a brief in-person assessment, Gayle said.

“This agency really cares about the employees,” noted Brenda Smith, chief of DLA's HQC Safety and Occupational Health Division. “This is one way DLA helps promote resiliency among the workforce.”

Below is a sampling of the services the HQC Health Unit offers:

  • Vaccinations (influenza, tetanus and diphtheria, etc.)
  • Over-the-counter pain relief
  • Blood pressure and temperature measurement
  • Wound care
  • Measurement of blood sugar
  • Lactation room
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Bed rest
  • Scale for body weight
  • For workplace exposures/deployments only, tuberculosis skin testing
  • Ear and/or eye irrigation
  • Removal of a foreign body
  • Allergy desensitization

The exam room even has secure mini-lockers for firearms, noted Gayle, who once worked in another agency's health unit that lacked this feature. “Police officers who came in for an exam would have to find a place to secure their weapons,” she said. In the HQC Health Unit, each gun-sized locker has its own key the officer retains while receiving services.

In addition to walk-in services, the Health Unit also tracks responses to medical emergencies, makes sure the two automatic blood-pressure machines in the HQC are calibrated on schedule; and helps provide information on wellness programs available to employees.

The Health Unit is happy to talk to anyone who may need care that isn’t listed, Smith said. “We’re a service-oriented place,” she noted.

This is just one program to be included in the upcoming HQC Safety and Health Expo, May 11 in the HQC lower level, near the cafeteria.