October 22, 2021

IRT taking sign-ups for care

Photo provided by Innovative Readiness Training program

Spc. Eric Cooper, a dental technician with the 7234th Medical Support Unit out of Vallejo, California, takes X-rays in preparation for the dentist during the Healthy Cortland Innovative Readiness Training event in Homer. Healthy Cortland was one of the IRT events that provided training in a joint civil-military environment. File photo from July 2016.

Three years ago, Amy McCracken of Truxton brought her daughter Emily to the Innovative Readiness Training program to get her eyes checked. Emily walked away with a new pair of glasses.

The family will go back to get their eyes checked again when 400 military medical providers will come July 12 to 20 to Homer to provide free health and dental care.

The details

What: Innovative Readiness Training exercise
When: July 12-20
Where: Homer Intermediate/Junior High School
For an appointment or to volunteer: Sign up at healthycortland.org.
What’s available: Dental examinations, fillings, extractions, school physicals, nutrition counseling, testing for cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, distance and reading glasses available on site, deworming and vaccinations for dogs and cats. Other possible services include screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, etc.
— Information provided by healthycortland.org

“I don’t carry vision on my insurance and my daughter needs her vision checked again,” McCracken said Friday. “The vision exam is not cheap and then you leave with your prescription, so if you need to get more glasses you have it.”

Although optometry services, along with medical services like school physicals are done by walk-in dental and spay and neuter services are done by appointment.

About a fourth of dental appointment spots are booked and there are only 15 cat neutering appointments available, four days after booking began, said Eric Mulvihill, the clerk of the Legislature and county spokesman for the event.

“Folks were ready,” Mulvihill said Friday. “The community is much more aware of the quality of services.”

A Homer resident reported to Mulvihil calling 56 times before being able to book a veterinarian appointment.

“They were doing everything like root canals all right there and it was all free,” McCracken said recalling when she went in 2016. “For people who don’t have insurance or have massive copays, to get those things done then is ideal.”

Mulvihill said if appointment slots do fill people can still stop by in case slots open.

In order to ensure the steady flow of patients, the event will need as many volunteers as it can get — hundreds giving a total of 3,000 hours, said Shane Butler, planning director for Chenango County, which is partnering with Cortland on the effort, as it did three years ago.

Mulvihill said about 40% of the volunteer slots are filled.

The event already has the support of organizations such as Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, SUNY Cortland and Homer School District, Seven Valleys Health Coalition, the United Way and Southern Tier 8 regional planning board.

The 400 military personnel are likely to provide services to at least as many people as they did in 2016, when they provided 7,613 services to 1,807 patients, including 725 eyeglasses distributed, 727 pets vaccinated for rabies and 168 spayed or neutered, Cortland County planners said. That was more than $850,000 in free health care.

Patients can come from anywhere: Broome, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Tioga, Tompkins counties.

The 2016 event saw patients from Onondaga County and farther away, too.

This year’s event is the second largest IRT hosted event in 2019, behind IRT Puerto Rico with its 517 medical providers.