Aug 30, 2013
FERRIDAY — About 3,600 people received free medical treatment in Concordia Parish earlier this month as part of a military training exercise.
Five units — mostly Army reservists — came to Ferriday from Aug. 8-16 to get hands-on training in major medical operations. Thousands of citizens took advantage of the opportunity for treatment.
“It was an extremely good turnout,” said Dr. David Holcombe, medical director and administrator for Region 6 of the Office of Public Health in Alexandria. “We had folks from as close as Ferriday to as far as 2½ hours away. The dentists saw over 1,000 people. Almost 1,000 glasses were made.”
“We’re here to help improve care in the community and help these soldiers get the real time training they need,” said Maj. Jim Compliment, officer in charge of the operation, which was nicknamed Delta Care. “We practice on the civilian side every day, but, if called, we need to know we can translate those skills into a military setting. This training is invaluable.”
Innovative Readiness Training is designed to give service members real-world preparation for potential wartime missions while filling needs in America’s underserved communities.
The site in Ferriday — centered on the campus of Central Louisiana Technical Community College — was chosen because of the area’s poverty and the need for basic medical care among its citizens.
“I think it’s an amazing program,” said Vicki Riser, wife of state Sen. Neil Riser. Vicki Riser and Concordia Parish Economic Development Director Heather Malone were among the driving forces in landing the project, along with partners such as Delta Regional Authority.
“Places like this are so often overlooked,” Vicki Riser said. “When you can couple military and civilian needs, that’s the perfect program.”
Louisiana ranked 48th among states in overall health outcomes in the latest rankings in americashealthrankings.org. Concordia ranked 59th and Catahoula 61st among 64 Louisiana parishes in countryhealthrankings.org.
“So this is an area of need,” Holcombe said.
“Many people told me they couldn’t do this otherwise,” Compliment said. “Many people in this area do not have health insurance. Many people in this area have to walk to get access to health care. This is a godsend.”