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Military medical personnel are bringing free services to southern Missouri

 An Army member provides dental work at a community clinic. Such services will be available in Ava, Eminence and Houston for a week, free of charge.
Delta Regional Authority
An Army member provides dental work at a community clinic. Such services will be available in Ava, Eminence and Houston for a week, free of charge.

More than 100 medical members of the Army, Air Force and reserves are in southern Missouri for a week to provide free medical services to anyone who wants them.

The project is a collaboration among the Department of Defense, the Delta Regional Authority and local health care agencies.

“These are the favored missions where we can train our soldiers, build relationships with community partners and see the impact we have in the community,” said Lt. Col. Safuratu Aranmolate, an Army field hospital commander.

The mission is designed to help the communities and train troops by simulating work environments that the medical officers may face if deployed during a natural disaster or in overseas conflicts.

“Some of us are in high school gymnasiums, and some of us are in storage closets. We have to be able to get that practice that, you know, some of the medical professionals won’t get that kind of field environment from their civilian jobs,” said Capt. David Falcon, an Air Force medical officer.

In addition to working in temporary medical spaces and sleeping in makeshift quarters, the military medical staff will have an opportunity to work with regular patients in situations that would be similar to what they would see during a deployment.

“They have to realize they have to kind of have that empathy and have that connection with the patients that may not respond in the same way that a soldier would. So it’s a great opportunity for expanding that skillset,” Falcon said.

The medical care will be available in the towns of Ava, Eminence and Houston, which are all located in counties that have high levels of poverty and limited access to medical care.

“The need is great here because sometimes specialty care and just access to care is a little bit harder to come by,” said Tim Shryack, CEO of Missouri Ozarks Community Health. “The military is going to provide great care, and again it’s first-come, first-served, so whoever comes here, it doesn’t matter if they come from far away, I know they’re gonna take care of them, and it’s gonna be a huge benefit.”

The services provided include basic medical and wellness exams, dental checkups, extractions and fillings, and vision exams and glasses.

The clinics will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until July 8. They will be held at Eminence High School, Houston High School and the MOCH Wellness Center in Ava.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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Jonathan Ahl joined Iowa Public Radio as News Director in July 2008. He leads the news and talk show teams in field reporting, feature reporting, audio documentaries, and talk show content. With more than 17 years in public media, Jonathan is a nationally award-winning reporter that has worked at public radio stations in Macomb, Springfield and Peoria, IL. He served WCBU-FM in Peoria as news director before coming to Iowa. He also served as a part-time instructor at Bradley University teaching journalism and writing courses. Jonathan is currently serving a second term as president of PRNDI ââ