Navy Cmdr. Eric Johnson was pleased with the reception that military personnel were receiving on Maui as they delivered free medical and dental care and exams to Maui residents at six locations throughout Maui County on Lana'i, Molokai and Hana from June 4 to 12.
Dubbed, "Tropic Care 2013," the free medical services were the result of a partnership between the County of Maui/Office of the Mayor, the state Department of Health and the Innovative Readiness Training Program of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.
Maui County was selected as the designated location for this free program after Mayor Alan Arakawa signed an official request to the U.S. Department of Defense in 2011.
Navy Cmdr. Eric Johnson assisted in providing on-site information about the Tropic Care 2013 site at St. Theresa Church. A resident of Minnesota, Johnson commented on how friendly Maui people had been to all of the military personnel associated with the project. A mahalo luau organized by the church was held at the conclusion of the program that ran from June 4 to 12.
Performing healthcare services across the county were approximately 600 uniformed personnel, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, ophthalmologists, dentists and others from active and reserved ranks of the armed forces around the U.S.
For the military, it was a rapid deployment training exercise for those times when medical care is needed in the wake of a natural disaster or as part of community building projects in countries oversees where the U.S. military has a presence.
Johnson, a native of Minnesota, was stationed at St. Theresa Catholic Church on Lipoa Street in Kihei as part of a contingent of 90 military personnel assigned to the location.
The military healthcare workers served 135 people on the first day of the project.
"The people of Maui have been incredibly friendly and they are very patriotic," Johnson said. "People just keep saying 'thank you.'"
The Tropic Care exercise includes members of the armed forces from the Army, Air Force and the Navy. The project works through an integrated service structure with a single chain of command.
Among the Tropic Care services provided were vision checks, single-lens glasses, basic dental care, physical examinations, screening and education, nutrition information and counseling.
If a person needed additional care after their Tropic Care visit, participants were referred to their established medical, optometry or dental health provider. If the individual did not have an established relationship with a provider, a community resource list of affordable services was provided to them.
On the first day of the project, Mayor Arakawa visited the Lana'i Tropic Care clinic to recognize Joelle Aoki, the county employee who brought the military program to his attention.
The mayor thanked Aoki, the U.S. military and the many people volunteering their time from the county and state Department of Health. The mayor said he expected thousands of Maui County residents to take advantage of the free services.
"We assigned personnel from our office to coordinate with the military," said Mayor Arakawa. "It's very important for us to make sure that people in our community have good medical care. We need to take advantage of it."
Residents who missed the Tropic Care screenings can go to the Kihei-Wailea Medical Center in the Pi'ilani Shopping Center (Safeway shopping center, 221 Pi'ikea Ave.) on Saturday, June 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The center is hosting a their own separate, one-day health-screening clinic for those who are currently without insurance or may be in need of medical care. This event is free and open to the public at-large on a first-come, first-served basis. You do not need to be a client of the medical center to participate.
Primary care providers who specialize in family medicine and internal medicine will provide general health screening. All testing will be performed at the discretion of the providers, which may include blood analyses, X-rays, EKGs or specialist referrals.
For information, call (808) 874-8100).