October 23, 2021

IRT to offer dental care

Military training exercise in Homer will fill unmet need in community

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.

Contributing Writer

Plenty of appointments for free dental appointments remain available during the Healthy Cortland Innovative Readiness Training exercise July 11 to 20 in Homer, reports Seven Valleys Health Coalition.

“For people like my dad who is nearing 90, has a fixed income and is on Medicare, which doesn’t provide dental coverage, this event is so helpful,” said Jackie Leaf, director of Seven Valleys and the event’s co-lead. “Many people in our community face choosing between paying for dental care or paying for child care or gas or other necessities.”

More than 400 military medical providers will come to Homer in a logistics training exercise, during while they’ll provide a number of medical and veterinary services. Among them will be free dental examinations, fillings and extractions.

Dental hygiene plays an important role in overall health, and the state Department of Health says, periodontal disease can cause chronic health problems for adults, including heart or lung disease, and lead to difficulty with healthy eating, and even interfere with one’s ability to get and keep a job.

That’s why the Healthy Cortland planning committee worked to bring the no-cost medical event to Cortland County in 2016 and again starting July 11. Cavity Free Cortland — a consortium including Seven Valleys Health Coalition, the county Health Department, Family Health Network, CAPCO and others — is helping to bring the Healthy Cortland IRT back to Homer.

Free dental care

The dental services: Examinations, fillings and extractions

For an appointment: Call 211 or 877-211-8667 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Also at the event: Eye exams and free eyeglasses, physicals, screenings and more provided on a walk-in basis.

Details or to volunteer: Get more information on services or sign up by Tuesday to volunteer at www.healthycortland.org.

Guthrie Cortland Medical Center and Family Health Network are collaborating to schedule follow-up appointments for the Healthy Cortland patients, said Jennifer Turck, senior director for provider relations and business development at the hospital, which is one of the event’s sponsors.

“Keeping patients — especially those with complex, chronic conditions — on a path for healing, recovery, and good quality of life is the reason Guthrie Cortland and Family Health Network are collaborating and coordinating follow up appointments for patients who visit Healthy Cortland for care,” Turck said.

The Cortland County Health Department has organized the community resources area of the event to ensure participants learn more about the health and human services available.

“This event not only provides our residents with much needed dental care that they otherwise might not have accessed, but it also gives them a plan for follow-up care and helps them identify a local care provider,” said county Public Health Director Catherine Feuerherm. “Our community partners are ready to step up to help people get the ongoing care they need.”

In addition to Seven Valleys, the Cortland County planning and health departments, Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, Family Health Network and CAPCO, the event is sponsored and helped by a number of agencies, including Central New York Living History Center, CNY SNAP, Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, Country Acres Animal Shelter and Southern Tier 8 Planning Board.

Susan Williams is assistant director for Seven Valleys Health Coalition.