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    General Recognizes Red Hill Clinic Personnel for Medical Support After 2021 Fuel Release

    General Recognizes Red Hill Clinic Personnel for Medical Support After 2021 Fuel Release

    Photo By Christopher Perrine | U.S. Army Lt. Col. Freddy Rivera, left, receives a challenge coin from U.S. Army Brig....... read more read more



    Story by Christopher Perrine 

    Defense Health Agency

    The director of Defense Health Network Indo-Pacific, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Bill Soliz, visited the Red Hill Clinic at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam June 6 to recognize Army, Navy and Air Force personnel for providing outstanding medical support to people exposed to water contamination due to a jet fuel release.

    Soliz visited the clinic to give his personal thanks and present a challenge coin to five service members who provided support to the clinic in addition to their normal duties.

    “Not many people think of it as an opportunity, but this was an opportunity for the medical field to step up during an emergency and support the community,” according to Soliz.

    U.S. Army Lt. Col. Freddy Rivera is one of the five to receive a coin from Soliz and has been involved since the November 2021 fuel release supporting the Army’s post-release response at the Aliamanu Military Reservation Housing Area and helping to establish the Red Hill Clinic.

    A native of Puerto Rico and nursing director for Tripler Army Medical Center, Rivera “played an integral role in standing up the clinic and coordinating expedited access to Tripler specialty medical services,” said Dr. Kevin Nakamura, Assistant Director for Medical Affairs, DHN-IP. He “displayed exceptional leadership serving as the single touchpoint for coordinating all Red Hill Clinic referrals for Tripler specialty medical services,” Nakamura added.

    U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Latoya Collier received a coin for service as the Officer in Charge of Red Hill Clinic from August 2023 through June 2024. The Miami, Fla., resident is a nurse and serves as the clinic manager for BHC Makalapa. According to Nakamura, she “demonstrated exceptional leadership in managing clinic operations, providing daily updates to DHN-IP, and preparing appointment tracking reports for senior leaders.”

    “Our mission is to maintain a ready medical force that delivers highly reliable, patient-centered care to warfighters and their ʻohana,” said Collier. She added that it is important to “deliver a high caliber of care and stellar customer service, and let the community know they can count on us to serve their needs. I feel our contributions as a Red Hill team have been impactful in ensuring that all patients receive the services promptly to alleviate stress and address concerns. We want our patients to know their concerns are our priority and valued.”

    Another coin recipient, U.S. Navy Cdr. Kayla Horton, is a family nurse practitioner and has been with Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Pearl Harbor since May 2023. Born in Seoul in the Republic of Korea, adopted and raised in Catlin, Ill., in April she became the director of health services for NMRTC and the primary care provider for Red Hill Clinic.

    Although a recent addition to the clinic, Nakamura said Horton quickly got up to speed and provided an exemplary high-profile tour of the clinic for Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Seileen Mullen in April.

    Horton said, “I think the Red Hill Clinic plays an important role in rebuilding trust with the community. My role is to listen and acknowledge their experiences in the wake of Red Hill and facilitate access to specialty care if needed. Most patients I’ve seen in the last two months just want to ensure that the exposure is documented in their health record and that they are in a long-term registry so they and their families will continue to have medical support in the future, especially as they prepare to (transfer) off island.”

    The Red Hill jet fuel release affected all branches of the armed forces in Hawaii, and each branch contributed to the medical response. U.S. Air Force Maj. Isabel Hung Wan, 15th Medical Group, 15th Wing, is a physician assistant and served as a PCM at Red Hill Clinic from October 2023 until March. According to Nakamura, she displayed empathy and professionalism in caring for individuals impacted by the Red Hill fuel release.

    Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Hung Wan immigrated with her parents in 1989 at the age of 10 and now calls Los Angeles home. “I had excellent mentorship from the providers that worked at the Red Hill Clinic prior to me,” said Hung Wan. “Due to this, the Red Hill Clinic was already running smoothly by the time I got there.”

    Hung Wan appreciated assistance from the support staff and was glad to help patients worried about water contamination. “Patients that came into the clinic were concerned about their exposure to the water contamination and how that exposure has affected them and can affect their health in the future. As a medical provider, I treated the patients’ symptoms, referred them to see specialists and do further tests, if needed. That is a typical job of a medical provider, but patients were mostly happy that there was this specific clinic set up for someone to hear about their medical concerns and provide overall reassurance. This taught me to be more compassionate and I will use this moving forward.”

    Soliz also recognized a member of the support staff and presented a coin to U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Nan Nankivil. An electroneurodiagnostic technologist by trade and raised in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Collier said Nankivil serves as the primary corpsman at the front desk and has “played a pivotal role in greeting, checking in patients, providing direct care with Red Hill Clinic providers, and guidance to 83 beneficiaries ranging from active duty to pediatric patients. In addition, she serves as the Makalapa (Clinic) Work Center Supervisor for the Gold Team.”

    Nankivil thinks she has made a positive impact. “I feel that I helped quell a lot of anxieties especially with nonactive-duty patients, in relation to the Red Hill water situation. I am happy to calm anxious patients and to educate patients in relation to the situation and health effects.”

    In addition to caring for current health needs, Nankivil said her efforts will help affected individuals in the future. “I feel that the medical documentation in relation to Red Hill will allow medical research teams to assess further the physical effects of contaminated water use.”

    The Red Hill Clinic was established January 3, 2023, within Naval Health Clinic Hawaii’s Branch Health Clinic Makalapa to provide medical assessments and treatment for all TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries who demonstrated symptoms that may be related to the November 2021 Red Hill fuel release.

    “The clinic was established to address the medical needs of those affected by the release,” according to Nakamura. At the time more than sixty thousand people had signed up for a registry of residents potentially impacted by the fuel release. “The purpose of the clinic was to create a one-stop location for people to address symptoms possibly attributed to jet fuel contamination, and we wanted to provide streamlined access to both primary and specialty care,” said Nakamura.

    Establishing a clinic dedicated to people exposed to contamination also enabled the DHN-IP to ensure caregivers were specifically trained to communicate with and understand the sensitivities of patients with exposure concerns, according to Nakamura.

    On March 10, 2023, then-Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. extended assessment and treatment eligibility to non-DoD affiliated people affected by the release for a one-year period. That has been extended another year until March 10, 2025.

    The Red Hill Clinic continues to provide care to those impacted by the release, and appointments can be made by calling 833-415-3024 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Those seeking care must qualify for one of the following:
    • Permanent residence in housing served by the JBPHH Water Distribution System between Nov. 20, 2021, and March 18, 2022
    • Full- or part-time work in any facility served by the JBPHH Water Distribution System any time between Nov. 20, 2021, and March 18, 2022
    • Attended school or daycare served by JBPHH Water Distribution System any time between Nov. 20, 2021, and March 18, 2022
    • Current resident of military family housing served by the JBPHH Water Distribution System
    • Experience persistent, worsening, or new symptoms attributed to either the November 2021 JP-5 fuel release or current concerns over drinking water quality in military family housing served by the JBPHH Water Distribution System.

    For those not eligible for TRICARE health coverage, the Defense Health Agency is offering Secretarial Designee patients a medical assessment. Those who qualify may receive additional care at the Red Hill Clinic at Branch Health Clinic Makalapa, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and at Tripler Army Medical Center, when space is available.

    More information can be find at the Red Hill Clinic web site at Red Hill C (


    Date Taken: 06.13.2024
    Date Posted: 06.13.2024 20:58
    Story ID: 473948
    Location: HONOLULU, HAWAII, US
    Hometown: CATLIN, ILLINOIS, US
    Hometown: CATLIN, INDIANA, US
    Hometown: MIAMI, FLORIDA, US

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