Military cares for 1,981 patients, performs 7,705 healthcare procedures at IRT Hoosier Care

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jonathan Padish
  • 181st Intelligence Wing

Airmen and Soldiers supporting the Innovative Readiness Training mission IRT Hoosier Care cared for 1,981 patients and provided an estimated cost savings of $564,000 worth of healthcare procedures June 7-14 in Terre Haute.

Service members completed 2,169 medical procedures, 2,514 dental procedures, 2,347 optometry procedures, 669 nutritional counseling sessions and six behavioral health consultations during the no-cost clinic, which operated out of a single location provided by the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club.

IRT Hoosier Care, which was led by the Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing under the leadership of Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer McKay, operated the no-cost healthcare clinic with the twin goals of providing hands-on training for service members and affording no-cost services for the public.

The mission was also supported by several additional military units from the National Guard and active duty Air Force, including the 189th Medical Group, 122nd MDG, 111th MDG, 165th Airlift Wing, 147th AW and Indiana Army National Guard. Several community partners also assisted with the mission.

The military readiness nature of the mission was an integral part of IRT Hoosier Care.

According to Air Force Master Sgt. James Hammock, the mission noncommissioned officer in charge for IRT Hoosier Care and member of the 181st MDG, the services provided and training received were unique to the IRT mission by providing tangible experience that cannot be gained elsewhere.

This was especially true for Guard and Reserve personnel, who may not necessarily have ongoing opportunities for hand-on training.

“It takes a lot of repetitions [with medical procedures] to be deployable,” Hammock said. “If you're not working in that career field in the civilian world, you're just going to lose it if you don't get this training. These are perishable skills. So, this [IRT mission] is amazing for these service members who went through [it].”

Indeed, IRT Hoosier Care, which on its final and busiest day provided care to 392 patients totaling a community cost-savings of more than $103,000, provided invaluable healthcare training for service members.

“They're getting really good skills out there and repetitions on that training,” Hammock said. “And when you do that and you're successful with it, you really anchor your confidence and skill.”

The IRT Hoosier Care emphasis on military readiness had a positive impact.

“These [IRT missions] are a win-win,” said Air Force Col. Thomas Salisbury, 181st MDG commander. “We get a boost in our morale. We get a boost in our training. And we get a boost in our innovation.”

To be sure, the dual nature of IRT Hoosier Care – training for service members and no-cost services to the community – was a net positive for both the military and the public.

“It’s so rewarding as soon as you walk in,” said Lt. Col. Steven Johnson, ANG IRT program manager. “There’s so much positive feedback about what you can accomplish.”

Led by the 181st IW, IRT Hoosier Care was a Department of Defense-led mission with local partners that provided no-cost healthcare services to the community and real-world, hands-on training to service members.