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News | March 25, 2022

U.S. Army MEDCOM Civilian of the Year

By Jorge Gomez

FORT RILEY, Kansas -- An elderly patient who worried about Parkinson’s disease came back to Irwin Army Community Hospital to see a pharmacist. Her tremors had ceased and she wanted to thank David Hatesohl who had suggested changing drugs. The shakings were due to a drug side effect, not the early stages of a progressive nervous system disorder.
“That was one point in my career that reinforced to me that I was making an impact in patients’ lives,” said the pharmacist of 33 years. 
Changing lives is not just meaningful to Hatesohl and the patients he serves, it’s meaningful to the 45th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and Commanding General for the U.S. Army Medical Command. Hatesohl was recognized by Lt. Gen. Raymond Dingle and Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough, Office of the Surgeon General, as the MEDCOM Civilian of the Year on March 23.
“When you have leaders do what you have done, you (Hatesohl) impact the entire community,” said Lt. Gen. Raymond Dingle. “It’s not just a readiness thing, not just a Soldier thing, not just a family thing, it’s an entire community. Hatesohl is the quintessential example of the entire command.”
During the ceremony Hatesohl thanked his pharmacy teammates for their contributions in making his award possible but he specifically pointed out his parents and uncles.
“I had the privilege of working on our family farm when I was growing up and it was there that I learned work ethics. We didn’t quit until the job was done just because it was 5 o’clock. We kept going until the end of the day. That’s where I give my credit to,” said Hatesohl.
Although his reputation as a hard worker is supported with productivity figures, it was his keen insight and application of pharmacy processes in a pandemic environment that stood out for LTC Rosalynda Uy, the former IACH pharmacy chief, in 2020.
“When we closed down the PX pharmacy and stood up the curbside pharmacy, it was pure chaos the first week,” said Uy. “He was an integral part of using automation more effectively. The wait time went down from 90 to 30 minutes.”
Uy describes pharmacy operations as the law enforcement of medicine. Pharmacists assess each medication to be sure that the treatment is the most appropriate, effective, and safe choice for an individual patient and Hatesohl takes this part of his job seriously, she said.
“Patients see many providers and specialists these days. Doctors don’t always know what a patient is taking from a different provider. If patients come to us with all their prescriptions we can see the whole picture in what they’re taking, we can see the duplication of medications and make recommendations to the provider to get some discontinued,” said Hatesohl.
Engaging patients takes time and time is a factor in the pharmacy’s ability to fill prescriptions. Hatesohl said that the challenge for a pharmacist is to find the right balance of timeliness in safely dispensing prescriptions and taking the time to educate patients.
“It’s always important that we take time to recognize our patients and recognize the medications they’re taking,” he said. “That personal factor for me makes a difference.”
Originally from Linn, Washington County, Hatesohl is a Manhattan resident. He started his career as a retail pharmacist in Clay Center and worked there for 10 years. He’s been serving the Fort Riley community for 13 years. 
The U.S. Army Medical Command is a direct reporting unit of the U.S. Army with the mission to provide ready and sustained health services support and force health protection in support of the Total Force to enable readiness and to conserve the fighting strength while caring for our People and their Families.
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