Although the school year has ended, Keaau High School will be bustling with activity throughout the end of June as state and county agencies offer free medical care to residents.
Tropic Care 2018 is a nine-day event wherein residents will have access to free health care services ranging from health screenings, physicals, dental exams, tooth extractions, eye exams, hearing screenings, nutritional services and more.
The event, a collaboration between the state Department of Health, Hawaii County, the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the U.S. Army Reserves, began Monday. Col. Melody Quesenberry, officer in charge of Tropic Care, said the first day of the event saw nearly double the attendance of the event’s first day in 2016, the last time it was hosted, although she could not provide specific numbers.
Quesenberry said 66 personnel of the 1984th U.S. Army Hospital Pacific will be at Keaau High School administering health care to any residents who register.
The event’s dental and optical services are the most popular options by far, Quesenberry said.
Meanwhile, approximately 40 county and state agencies will be available for attendees to connect with additional services.
“It’s a great opportunity to try and link people with what services they need,” said Tracey Wise, public health educator for the state Department of Health.
Tropic Care was held on Kauai four times since 2012 and assisted thousands of people.
Dileep Bal, director of the District Health Office, was instrumental in bringing it to Kauai. However, he retired and last year was his last overseeing the program.
Officials are hoping to have it return to Kauai next year.
Despite the timing of the event, Tropic Care 2018 is completely unrelated to the ongoing Disaster Recovery Center set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Keaau High School, where those impacted by the Kilauea eruption and lava flow in lower Puna can meet with a similarly wide range of local, state and federal agencies.