Hawaii Air National Guard paves way for dental and medical services
By Tech. Sgt Betty J. Squatrito-Martin and C4C Sarah K. Martin, 154 MDG
/ Published April 01, 2009
Mar. 22, 2009 -- The Hawaii Air National Guards 154th Medical Group coordinated and helped bring free medical and dental treatments to Hawaii's communities as they hosted the 7202nd Medical Support Unit, an Army Reserve unit out of Richmond, VA. during the Hawaii Innovative Readiness Training program
Mar. 14 - 24, on Oahu.
The 7202 MSU, a mix of doctors, nurses, medics, dentists and dental hygienists, provided free medical and dental services for Oahu's underserved along the Ko`olauloa community . They screened over 700 public school children, performed community outreach for the underserved, served over 150 patients at a renovated dental clinic in Kahuku, and performed over 100 medical exams at the health fair held on the Brigham Young University, Laie campus Mar 21.
"They did a 'bang up' job," said Ella Siroskey, manager of the Emergency Room and acting director of nursing at Kahuku Community hospital. "The community truly appreciates their efforts," she added. "The people in attendance at the Ko'olauloa neighborhood board gave the 7202nd and the HIANG a standing ovation when I announced that medical and dental personnel were going to be here to provide services."
"This was a really good experience. It makes you more aware of the needs in our communities," said Staff Sgt. Erika Silva, 7202 Medical support Unit, dental technician. "It just feels good to help the community," she said.
"The patients have been great, really friendly, and they are leaving here in much better shape than when they came," he added." said Capt. Loken Patel, 7202nd dentist.
"There is a huge dental need here," said Capt. Patel. "It feels great to help the community and I feel better about myself," added Capt. Patel.
Although 150 walked through the dental clinic doors, it wasn't a certainty that those 150 people would receive assistance.
"None of the people who went to the dental clinic would have been seen if it weren't for the efforts of Staff Sgt. Jordan Carinio," said Capt. Glen Hayase, program manager of the IRT.
Staff Sgt. Jordan Carinio, Bio-medical equipment technician for the 154th Medical Group, is responsible for anything that powers medical equipment from electricity, to vacuum or water. He put his skill and knowledge to work as he set about to renovate an abandoned dental clinic at the Kahuku Medical Center. According to Staff Sgt. Carinio, the previous dentist had packed his bags and left about 18 months ago, and the area has been without a dentist since that time.
"The dental suite had been turned into a storage unit. Nothing was functional," said Staff Sgt. Carinio.
"He took it [abandoned dental clinic] from nothing and turned it into a functional, working dental clinic, said Capt. Hiyase.
Staff Sgt. Carinio spent the better part of a month repairing the dental equipment and making the dental suite functional for the IRT. Not only did Staff Sgt. Carinio make the dental suite operational, by maintaining and repairing equipment during the IRT, he kept the dentists performing at their optimum.
"It's rewarding to use my skills to fix the medical equipment so doctors and dentists can treat their patients," said Staff Sgt. Carinio. "It feels better than good," he added.
In addition to performing dental exams at the renovated dental clinic, medical teams provided medical outreach to under privileged families from Haleiwa to Kahaluu. The teams traveled along the coast offering a variety of medical screenings and treatment services.
"I was surprised at the extent of the need," said Lt. Justine Young, Director of Nursing for Rehabilitation for the 7202nd. "I really enjoyed visiting the schools and helping the children," she added.
"I wanted to help the underserved, but I had no idea about the number of homeless in Hawaii, especially the number of homeless veterans," said Lt. Col. Irene Parish, OIC of nursing for the 7202nd. Working with the IRT's outreach program has been rewarding, especially when we were able to provide medical services directly to the community's people, she added.
This is the second year that the HIANG has coordinated and hosted the Hawaii Medical Innovative Readiness Training. The purpose of the IRT is to match the mission essential training requirements for the National Guard and Reserve with the medical and health needs of Hawaii's medically-underserved communities. The program's name is "E Malama Kakou," or "To Care for All."
People receiving and giving care throughout the IRT agreed full heartedly with Ella Siroskey- "We hope they make it a yearly event!"