The rains haven’t deterred Tropic Care Kaua‘i from providing free health care services to island residents since Feb. 28, but many of the 400 military personnel assigned to the Instant Readiness Training program did take a break Tuesday night.
They enjoyed a lu‘au at Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Wailua, the popular visitor destination still recovering from the weekend deluge.
“They have been working so hard from Feb. 28, they need to have some good food (and entertainment),” said Kamika Smith of the Smith ‘ohana that operates the property. “We couldn’t help but have this lu‘au for them.”
Tommy Noyes, public information officer for the Kaua‘i District Health Office and a spokesman for Tropic Care Kaua‘i, said the military health care providers haven’t been able to go sightseeing during the mission, which ends Friday.
Smith’s Tropical Paradise, alive with Bobcats clearing debris from landslides and runoffs, was still reeling from the effects of the heavy rains, its trams traversing along overflowing ponds, brown from runoffs.
But the inhabitants of the park seemed to sense the feeling of appreciation felt by the Kaua‘i populace as a peacock obligingly spread his tail just as a tram-load of guests stopped. A rooster appeared and a flock of doves gathered to greet the military people who had abandoned their uniforms in favor of casual wear.
“Kaua‘i extends our ‘aloha’ to all those involved with Tropic Care Kaua‘i 2012 and for providing the people of the County of Kaua‘i with an opportunity to obtain medical assistance from professionals who serve in the military as part of the Department of Defense Instant Readiness Training mission,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in a proclamation presented to the mission’s leaders.
Following the final day of Tropic Care Kaua‘i, patients who have eyeglasses prescribed will be able to pick them up at the Kaua‘i District Health Office at dates to be announced later, said Kaua‘i Public Health Nursing Supervisor Toni Torres, who is also acting as the Tropic Care Kaua‘i medical coordinator.
Noyes suggested people in need of basic medical care on Friday arrive at clinics by 10 a.m. to be served before the final closing time of noon at the three clinics.
The military group has already provided more than $1 million worth of procedures to more than 5,000 people taking advantage of free health care services at the clinics operating at All Saints Episcopal Church in Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi, and the Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji in Hanapepe.
“The patient load has been steadily climbing since we opened,” said Commander Kelly Green, in charge of logistics at Hanapepe. “What surprised us is the dip we had Saturday. But otherwise, it’s been steadily climbing.”
Patient load figures posted by Green showed 232 patients at the Hanapepe clinic Feb. 28, rising to 303 for the day by March 4, the latest date figures were posted.
Green said the greatest need was for vision care. As of March 4, the Westside clinic had provided dental, vision and basic medical services to 1,696 patients.
The clinics operate from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. until noon Friday. Tropic Care Kaua‘i is a partnership with the Kaua‘i District Health Office, Putting Prevention to Work, and Department of Defense Reserve Affairs. The effort is supported by the county and the state governor’s office.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.