SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Since Nov. 10, 1775 the United States Marine Corps has been defending America from its enemies. The path to becoming a Marine is arduous, but the staff at Branch Health Clinic Marine Corps Recruit Depot (BHC MCRD) San Diego is there to provide care for them as they earn their stripes.
Each year thousands of young men begin making the transition from civilians to Marines at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego and one of the first steps in the recruit indoctrination is being seen at BHC MCRD.
The motivated BHC MCRD staff of 78 Sailors and 33 civilians, see more than 20,000 recruits each year.
"The recruits come here with nothing more than the physical they received at (Military Entrance Processing Station) and we go from there," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jeffrey D. Fitzwater, BHC MCRD leading petty officer.
The recruits get blood drawn for DNA and HIV testing, receive a series of immunizations, and are given a baseline screening for audiology and optometry to begin building their medical records.
Over the course of the 12-week training the recruits are physically and mentally challenged. During the tough training they may get injured or even succumb to illnesses such as respiratory infections or the common cold. When this happens, they may be seen at Sick Call.
"The Marines come here and we treat them," said 2010 Naval Medical Center Sailor of the Year and Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) of 2009 Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Erin E. Lawlor. "They are doing their best and expect the best from us and we try not to disappoint."
IDC and Navy doctors see sick call patients from the three training battalions at MCRD San Diego beginning at 6 a.m. until the last patient of the day or 4 p.m.
If the recruits need more advanced care, they are seen at the clinic's Acute Care area.
"We treat from 300 to about 600 patients a month depending on the time of the year," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Steven M. Urquidez. "We are responsible for anyone who works on the base so we see civilians and staff, as well as recruits."
The clinic 'Doc's' attend all the physical training exercises that the recruits are put through while on base.
"The morale is high here because everyone knows they are helping the Marines before they go out to defend our country," said Senior Enlisted Leader Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert C. Pursell. "We see the recruit's commitment and it rubs off on us."
The Marine recruits help the clinic hospital corpsman stay enthusiastic about their mission.
"This was my first duty station and where I learned how to be a squared-away Sailor from a drill instructor," said Lawlor. "It's motivating working here. The recruits keep us on our toes and we all feel that we are making a difference."
BHC MCRD offers a full spectrum of care including laboratory services, an optometry clinic, a Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapy (SMART) Clinic, radiology and pharmacy.
For more information about MCRD visit: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Patients/Pages/BHC-MCRD.aspx and the USMC site http://www.marines.mil/unit/tecom/mcrdsandiego/Pages/welcome.aspx.
For more news from Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit www.navy.mil/local/sd/.