Story Number: NNS140226-07Release Date: 2/26/2014 11:10:00 AM
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Bruce Cummins, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command
ABBEVILLE, La. (NNS) -- More than 120 Sailors, Soldiers and Air National Guardsmen started a nine-day training mission Feb. 25 to provide medical, dental and optometry care to Abbeville, La., and residents in the surrounding area.
Cajun Care 2014, a Department of Defense-sponsored Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission implemented in conjunction with the Delta Regional Authority, is designed to provide U.S. military medical professionals valuable training as well as provide health care options to a medically under served community.
According to Cajun Care 2014 Officer-in-Charge Air National Guard Lt. Col. Jamie Ruffing, medical professionals assigned to the mission performed 90 dental procedures, 102 optical exams, 78 medical exams and engaged in more than 60 hours of patient health training the first day.
"Cajun Care is an amazing experience that will create a positive and lasting impression on the community," she said. "All of the procedures these Sailors and Airmen have performed have enriched the lives of the community here."
Cajun Care 2014 medical personnel are providing multiple services, including nursing evaluations, blood pressure screenings, and diet and health consultations. Dental services, including assessments and extractions, are available, as are eye exams and eye glass manufacturing services.
Ruffing added that the logistics involved in mobilizing an effort large enough to provide medical care to an estimated 3,000 individuals over a nine-day span are significant, and the joint effort speaks toward the interoperability separate branches of the U.S. Armed Forces employ.
"The sheer magnitude of getting an operation such as this off the ground is staggering," she said. "But our supply and logistics team has answered every call, and enabled the providers to serve this community."
Cajun Care 2014 Assistant Officer in Charge and Navy Element Lead Lt. Cmdr. Sherri Hoskins, MSC, said the ability of the joint team to work together resulted an extremely smooth first day of operations.
"Every aspect of this mission - from our logistics and supplies to patient flow and care provided - has been streamlined," she said. "We truly are working as a team, and these Sailors and Airmen are some of the best their service has to offer."
In addition to providing services at the clinic - a facility formerly used as a nursing home - Hoskins said numerous community outreach efforts have been put into place, including visits to schools, churches and other organizations to provide training on various public health issues.
"We hope to use our skills to bring a lasting positive effect to the community," she said.
Cajun Care 2014 Navy Element Senior Enlisted Adviser Chief Hospital Corpsman Jessie Reyes said IRT missions such as this provide unique opportunities for Hospital Corpsmen to integrate into other roles within a joint environment.
"These men and women have the opportunity to work with their sister services doing what they do best - practice medicine and help others," he said. "The chance to train in dental, optometry and other specialties is something training missions such as this can provide."
Cajun Care 2014 is designed to provide U.S. military medical professionals a realistic training environment to rapidly establish a functional medical facility and is scheduled to end March 6.
Navy Medicine Education and Training Command reserve unit is part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health care network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high-quality health care to eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.
For more news from Navy Medicine Education and Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmsc/.