Nearly 5,000 Southern Illinois residents to receive medical care from U.S. Army Reserve

June 04, 2014

Delta Regional Authority–U.S. Department of Defense partnership will bring medical, dental, and optical care to three southern Illinois cities at no cost to communities

CAIRO, Ill. – Communities across 16 counties in southern Illinois and neighboring states will have access to health care through the U.S. Military’s Southern Care Innovative Readiness Training mission, leaders from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Delta Regional Authority, and Governor Pat Quinn announced this week. U.S. Army Reserve troops will provide medical, dental, and optical care at no cost to residents of Cairo, Harrisburg, and Marion, Illinois, and the surrounding communities from June 16-27, 2014.

“This program honors the daily sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and hard-working people of the Delta region,” said Chris Masingill, Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority. “In our sixth year of partnership with military reserve forces, we are proud to be able to provide much-needed medical care to southern Illinois residents as well as support the training of our troops.”

Medical personnel will provide multiple on-site services during the Southern Care mission, including nursing evaluations, blood pressure screenings and diet and health consultations, dental services including assessments and extractions, and eye exams and spectacle manufacturing. While providing desperately needed care to medically underserved areas of the Delta region, this IRT mission will allow medical professionals in the U.S. military to continue and maintain invaluable training in their field.

“All of us will benefit from this mission. The local communities will receive quality care while the military meets its training requirements,” said Capt. Charles An, Public Affairs Officer for the 3rd Medical Command out of Forest Park, Ga. “Our focus is on the joint services and combined efforts in civil-military opportunity to provide medical care to these underserved communities.”

“This is a great way for the military to give back to American communities as the communities have supported us for the past 12 years,” added An.
 
“The Innovative Readiness Training program helps our military heroes and our southern Illinois residents,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “This is an example of what we can do when we work together to find innovative solutions that benefit everyone.”

Each of the clinics will be located on the campuses of the local school districts:

Cairo Junior/Senior High School, 4201 Sycamore Street

Harrisburg Middle School, 312 Bulldog Boulevard

Marion Junior High School, 1609 W. Main Street

The IRT program relies heavily on community support to successfully coordinate each health mission, as community leaders from each of the three sites participate in the planning of the health mission with military and DRA leadership. Community leaders are seeking volunteers in southern Illinois communities to help with numerous aspects of operations during the June health missions. Additionally, the military is seeking licensed medical professionals as clinical volunteers, including nurses, physicians, and optometrists. 

"The City of Cairo is pleased and excited to be the host site for the Innovative Readiness Training in southernmost Illinois,” Cairo Mayor D. Tyrone Coleman said. “Increasing access to health care in underserved communities is a noble mission, and one we support wholeheartedly."

“The joint project between the Delta Regional Authority and the Department of Defense is a wonderful opportunity for our citizens to receive medical, vision and dental care and we are very appreciative to the DRA and DOD for this service to our community,” Harrisburg Mayor Ron Crank said.  

“Anytime the military and our residents can cooperate to provide training on the one hand and medical care on the other is a win-win effort for which we are very grateful,” Marion Mayor Robert Butler said.

Licensed medical professionals interested in supporting the mission are encouraged to contact US Army Reserve Sergeant Paul Webster at paul.a.webster.mil@mail.mil
Community members interested in volunteering should contact the following community contacts:

Cairo: Lynne Chambers-Ketchens, lynneketchens@gmail.com 
Andrea Evers, aevers@cairoschooldistrict1.com 
Harrisburg: Dale Fowler, dale.fowler@peoplesnationalbank.com
Marion: Cary Minnis, caryminnis@greateregypt.org

Scheduling requests can be made for each of the three sites by calling (866) 611-5627.

Southern Care is the first IRT health mission to serve southern Illinois and has the potential to reach more than 5,000 community members in need of medical services. This will be the second IRT mission of 2014 in the Delta region. Between February 25 and March 6, reservists with the Cajun Care mission served more than 3,000 people with upwards of 12,000 individual procedures, including tooth extractions, eye exams, and eyeglass fittings, valued at more than $1.2 million in community impact. 

“The Defense Department has some of the greatest health care capabilities in the world, as discussed in the hearing I recently chaired on Defense Health Care,” U.S Senator Dick Durbin said. “In particular, we discussed the benefits of sharing research discoveries and medical expertise among military and civilian medical professionals.  I’m pleased to see Army and Navy bring their expertise to Southern Illinois and I encourage the people of Southern Illinois to take advantage of this unique opportunity to receive the same high quality of care enjoyed by our men and women in uniform.”

"Rarely do we hear of win-win situations anymore, but here is a great example.  Our military men and women in medical fields need to conduct regular training in order to stay ready for deployment.  This training brings together local community members who need vision, dental, and medical care while training our service men and women who will be providing that care.  I can't think of a better way to achieve both goals," U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart said.

For more information about the Southern Care mission or the Innovative Readiness Training program, visit www.dra.gov and irt.defense.gov

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. Through twelve cycles of federal investment, the Authority is helping to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and has leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment.

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Delta Regional Authority Contact:  Spencer Lucker
202-434-4842, slucker@dra.gov

U.S. Army Reserve Contact: Charles An
404-469-5263, Charles.d.an.mil@mail.mil