Will Tropic Care return with free health care?

Talk is already under way to try and host another Tropic Care Instant Readiness Training program on Kaua‘i, say local Department of Health officials.

State Sen. Ron Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, learned about the effort from leaders of Tropic Care Kaua‘i 2012 on Friday when Kouchi stopped by the Kaua‘i District Health Office to present legislative certificates of commendation to the agency and leaders of the initiative that provided free basic health care to Kaua‘i residents.

Dr. Dileep Bal of the Kaua‘i District Health Office said Tropic Care leaders were impressed with the success and response from the Kaua‘i program, which operated from Feb. 27 until March 9 at three sites on the island.

“They had more than 10,000 responses during this period,” Bal said. “In spite of the rain (which shortened hours at the Kapa‘a site), there was a tremendous response. They have never gotten more than 10,000 responses at any of the other operations.”

A report prepared by the district health office for Kouchi described the services provided, including care for more than 2,200 medical patients, the

provision of nearly 3,000 dental services, and services to nearly 5,000 optometry patients.

Optometry patients were provided 3,570 pairs of eyeglasses that were custom-fabricated by a team of active duty personnel who spent 24 hours a day at a Hanapepe Armory facility.

As leaders of the Kaua‘i efforts for Tropic Care, Bal was joined by Public Health Nursing Supervisor Toni Torres, Dennis Esaki, Gov. Neal Abercrombie’s representative, and Thomas Noyes, the Communities Putting Prevention to Work project coordinator.

During the Kaua‘i operation, clinics were set up at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi and the Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji in Hanapepe as part of the military readiness initiative.

 The clinics were staffed by military reserve physicians and their support staff of about 400 people in dental services, optometry services, physical therapy, psychological counseling, and dietary and nutrition counseling .

Torres said medical services provided were valued in  excess of $7 million for a program which was budgeted at $500,000.

He said the local economy also benefited from group and individual expenditures.

Tropic Care Kaua‘i, in addition to its partnership with national, state and county agencies, received assistance from numerous community organizations.

Those community organizations included All Saints Episcopal Church, Calvary Chapel Kaua‘i, Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Medical Service Association, Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i, Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission, Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity, Lions Clubs of Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Medical Clinic, Kaua‘i Ministries, Kaua‘i Veterans Council, Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital, Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, the Salvation Army, Kaua‘i Soto Zen Mission Temple, Veterans Administration Primary Care Center, West Kaua‘i Hanapepe Hongwanji and Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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