October 22, 2021

Setup underway for military program offering free medical services

IRT providers arrive in Homer

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Navy Cmdr. Charles F. McQuade, left, Air National Guard Technical Sgt. Christina Luna, center, and Army Reserve Lt. Col. John Havens do an instrument inventory before putting the items together in kits for the various dental stations that will be at the Innovative Readiness Training event at Homer Intermediate School.

As Army Reserve Lt. Col. John Havens took bags of medical instruments out of the bin, Air National Guard Technical Sgt. Christina Luna checked them on a list.

“We have to sort through the stuff and put the items into kits,” said Navy Commander Charles F. McQuade.

The three military officers are among a few of the medical providers who have been trickling into Cortland County over the last couple of days and setting up designated areas for eye exams, dental procedures, veterinarian procedures and other services as part of a military deployment exercise otherwise known as Innovative Readiness Training.

From Thursday to July 20, the 200 medical providers will be at Homer Intermediate School providing various medical and dental care at no cost to patients. About 200 more providers will work in Norwich in Chenango County for Greater Chenango Cares Innovative Readiness Training.

Over at Homer High School, volunteers were going through orientation to prepare for the event.

While only 71% of the volunteer spots were filled, officials said the event should still go off without a hitch, according to Eric Mulvihill, the clerk of the county Legislature and the county spokesman for the event.

He said volunteer slots are based on the maximum amount of people the medical providers are likely to see.

“The first couple of days tend to be a little slower,” Mulvihill said. “We feel confident we’ll be OK.”

Mulvihill also said that spay and neuter appointments are booked but that there are still dental appointment slots open.

People will be able to walk in for things like optometry services and physicals and more.

The 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 making and distributing 725 eyeglasses, vaccinating 727 pets for rabies and spaying or neutering 168 pets at no cost to participants, Cortland County planners said.

That was more than $850,000 in health care.

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.