Tropic Care sets up on Big Island

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.

  1. Charlie Chimknee June 23, 2018 6:33 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    I went with a friend to Tropic Care the last time they were on Kauai at the Kapa’a Middle School. My friend was unable to get into a local dentist as they were booked up 6 months in advance just for a teeth cleaning. So we went to Tropic Care for the teeth cleaning.

    It took 9 hours of waiting just to see the dentist, having waited 9 hours in room after room after building in what seemed like playing “musical chairs”, up/down move 2 chairs over repeated to exhaustion.

    Eventually they took an x-ray of my friend’s teeth and said my friend had a cavity. The military lady dentist, who was old enough to have been experienced, said one of my friend’s teeth needed a root canal, but also said Tropic Care does not do Root Canals.

    By then the dentist had probed my friend’s teeth with an “explorer” tool, a sharp pointed metal curved pick that she probed with all her strength until she broke a hole in my friend’s tooth (while I watched all this going on).

    The dentist said again that they do not do root canal’s but also it was too late in the day, after waiting now over 9 hours, to do a teeth cleaning. My friend asked about the broken tooth the dentist caused, and the dentist said they do not fix broken teeth either, but also the dentist said come back the next day for the teeth cleaning.

    By the time I drove my friend home the broken tooth was hurting so bad we had to return to Kapa’a to the pharmacy to get an over the counter pain medication. The next day the pain persisted so much that my friend called around and could only find a dental surgeon who had an appointment available from a cancellation and I again drove my friend to that appointment.

    $500 later, and 1 less broken tooth in her head, my friend was out of pain and in need of rest and a few more pain killers.

    Tropic Care was not a good experience for my friend, or myself either, watching the “show” in the dental school room, with patients being put through, for some, what appeared to be a military type of dental torture, some of which bordered almost on comical if it was not so painful for the patients.

    Tropic Care…Caveat Emptor…it means…Buyer Beware, especially when free.



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