LEECH LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION, Minn. –
Approximately 40 Soldiers from the Army Reserve Medical Command’s 7218th Medical Support Unit, from Louisville, in partnership with Cass Lake Indian Health Service are offering no-cost healthcare services at the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School from July 10-19.
The Innovative Readiness Training event provides a real world application of Soldiers’ medical training, validates some of the unit’s readiness requirements and augments the medical needs of the local residents.
“We greet the patients at the door,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Dudeck, noncommissioned officer- in-charge for the IRT mission, and a member of the 7218th MSU, “they are then screened and vitals are obtained before being escorted to their desired discipline of care.”
The IRT has dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and optometrists ready to provide top notch care, he added.
“Once they are completed with their care, they pass through our case management, to ensure we capture all care provided, account for the procedures performed and medications prescribed.
“For patients who are tribal members, our goal is to make sure these individual medical records reach their electronic health record and Cass Lake IHS,” said Dudeck.
The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
“Tooth started hurting”
One patient Theodora Redwing, a Cass Lake Indian Reservation resident, stopped by July 12 because her tooth started hurting very badly overnight.
“I like the treatment and they ask me my thoughts and give me options, taking the extra steps to clean my denture and they checked my other teeth,” Redwing said.
Army Reserve Spc. Carrie Ford, a dental technician with the 7218th MSU, used a portable dental x-ray machine to take an x-ray of Redwing’s painful tooth.
“We took an x-ray of a tooth she said had a cavity,” Ford said, ”had her remove the denture to view it better.”
Redwing, a Navy veteran, said she wasn’t that confident that the Cass Lake 2018 “Walking Shield” IRT would be able to alleviate her tooth pain, that was, until she arrived.
“We did a tooth extraction [for Redwing},” said Staff Sgt. Melissa Richie, dental assistant, 7218th MSU, Louisville, Kentucky.
Pain relief, then smiles all around
Redwing had a molar removed by Army Reserve Lt. Col. Breacya Washington, a dentist with the 7218th MSU and in her civilian career a doctor of dental medicine.
Next, Redwing will follow up with IHS.
“It was enjoyable,” said Washington. “It was great to relieve someone of the pain they’ve been in, that made her happy.”
Redwing was very happy and smiling from ear to ear afterward.
“She talked me through everything,” Redwing said. “It’s unbelievable. I feel very satisfied. I am glad I came here. Just so happened my tooth started hurting. I am so glad I came here. I am amazed.”
“Impact on the community”
It is a “great collaboration that had an impact on the community,” said U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps 1st Lt. John Naegeli, a pharmacist with the IHS. The USPHS Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.
Naegeli, school Superintendent Mary Trapp and Dudeck were the lead planners for the IRT mission.
“The ability to participate in real world training, hands on, while simultaneously providing a much needed service to this amazing community is huge,” said Dudeck. “The impact is real. We prepare for global deployment and the local population receives health care services at no cost. It truly is a win, win.”
As of July 13, more than 180 local area residents have visited the IRT clinic for a variety of medical services including general exams, school exams, physicals, eye exams, pharmacy services, dental exams, dental x-rays, tooth filings and extractions, with over 800 total medical services provided.
A resident of Bemidji, Minnesota and an IRT dental patient Andrew Rudduck, said he received phenomenal treatment by the Soldiers.
“I believe it benefits the community as a whole,” Rudduck added.