News: IRT optometrists provide free services to more than 300 patients per day
KAUA’I, Hawaii – Optometrists were in high demand at the Hanapepe Innovative Readiness Training Facility located on one of the medically underserved areas on island of Kauai.
Active and Reserve Navy, Air Force, and Army members set up three field-operated medical facilities in Kapa’a, Lihue, and Hanapepe, as part of an Innovative Readiness Training mission.
Military members provided medical, ophthalmology and dental support services to Hawaii residents, while conducting deployment and readiness training from Feb. 26 through March 10. In Hanapepe, the ophthalmology line was longer than any of the other services.
“I had no idea of how much demand there was in Hawaii for ophthalmology, since it is a part of the U.S., but just looking at the line outside, you can see which line is the longest. It’s been like that the entire time,” said Lt. Col. Vince Simoncini, 113th Medical Group, D.C. Air National Guard. “We could be here for a month and I don’t think we would ever meet the demand.”
Optometrists at the Hanapepe location assisted more patients due to the optometry deployment kits they were given. They also found different ways each day to improve their efficiency and timeliness of service. The patient count increased each day as well. Optometrists more than 300 patients per day, providing free eye exams and eye wear.
“We are offering eye exams with a free pair of eye glasses the next day,” says Col. Jerry Arends, Tropic Care IRT commander.
Working efficiently and adjusting our process to accommodate the patients without cutting corners – that has been valuable training for us,” said Lt. Col. Vince Simoncini. “The technicians have also been able to do things that they can’t back at home.”
The primary purpose of the IRT mission is to conduct deployment, readiness and logistic training in an expeditionary, multi-service environment providing post disaster relief. While that is the primary mission, it is also the military’s civic duty to assist fellow Americans in need of assistance.
“The people couldn’t be more gracious and kind. These are the warmest people I’ve ever met”, says said Lt. Col. Vince Simoncini. “Training is ultimately why we are here, but we can’t overlook the humanitarian aspect of it because that’s the real joy in this mission!”
Date Posted:03.12.2012 15:30
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