‘Tropic Care’ returns

LIHUE — Free medical care will be returning to Kauai, courtesy of the federal goverment.

A 10-day program, known as Tropic Care will provide free optometry and dental care to residents islandwide between June 16 and June 26.   

“Come one, come all,” said Kauai District Health Officer Dr. Dileep Bal during a press conference Wednesday. “This service is for everyone, compliments of the Pentagon.”

Walk-in locations at Eleele Elementary School, Kauai Community College and Kapaa Middle School will operate simultaneously to ensure residents receive the care they need, Bal said.

The federal program, which first debuted on Kauai in 2012, allows medical professionals, who are military reservists in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, to provide services for underserved communities nationwide.

During the two-week Tropic Care mission in 2012, over 8,000 people received more that 12,000 medical procedures valued at more than $7 million.

About 3,500 pairs of eyeglasses alone, Bal said, were handed out in 2012 alone. That year’s program, he added, was a successful one and eventually led to similar medical outreach efforts on Maui and the Big Island.  

“There are a lot of people, and not just the poor, who need these services — even some middle-class people cannot afford it,” Bal said. “A lot of our kupuna and even our middle class families can’t afford spectacles.”

This year, Bal and other officials are hoping to provide up to $10 million in medical services to residents islandwide and distributing at least 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses.

Providing these services, Bal said, prepares the more than 280 medical professionals participating this year for rapid deployment to remote locations, while providing communities with the medical assistance they need.

“Hawaii figures are high in this area,” Fitzgerald said. “There is a shortage of health care, especially on the neighbor islands, enabling the state to request military assistance to fill the gaps in care of medically underserved communities.”  

Kauai District Health Office Planner Tommy Noyes said Tropic Care providers will also be fabricating prescription glasses for residents who need them at a designated facility on the Kauai Community College campus.

The Kauai Bus will also provide free transportation services to residents islandwide throughout the duration of Tropic Care.

Information: 241-3555 or send an email to tck2014@doh.hawaii.gov.

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