No-cost health care offered to eastern Kentuckians

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Department for Local Government is partnering with the Air Force Reserve Command and other branches of the U.S. military to offer health care at no cost to citizens in four eastern Kentucky counties starting Aug 3.

Medical screenings, non-emergency medical treatments, sports physicals, dental exams, cleanings, fillings and extractions, optical exams and single-prescription eyeglasses will be offered.

Sites offering care will be in Annville, Barbourville, Hyden, Manchester and Oneida. All clinics will be open Aug. 3-10, and patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.

Called “Operation Coal Country,” this Innovative Readiness Training program, or IRT, gives military health professionals an opportunity to provide medical, dental and optical care in a field environment, much as they would when responding to a natural disaster or military operation, while offering services to citizens who are uninsured or underinsured.

“We consistently hear stories from our service members on how we’ve changed someone’s life during these IRTs, while at the same time providing vital training to our own members,” said Captain Jonathan A. Polos, U.S. Air Force, who is the Mission Commander.

Operation Coal Country is a joint-service mission comprised of about 175 military personnel from the Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, Army Reserve, Air National Guard, and Active Duty Navy. A similar effort, led by the Kentucky Air National Guard in eastern Kentucky in 2018, provided more than 11,000 medical, dental and optometry procedures with an economic impact of just over $1 million.

This year’s program is co-sponsored by the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG), charged by Gov. Matt Bevin to provide assistance to local governments.

“The DLG is working closely with communities and local leadership to host the participating troops and provide logistical and programmatic support”, explained DLG Commissioner Sandra K. Dunahoo.

“As the U.S. Department of Defense’s community partner, the Kentucky Department for Local Government is working closely with local officials in Clay, Jackson Knox and Leslie counties to help facilitate the project’s success,” Dunahoo said.

“We’re very pleased to support a program that gives our military health-care troops essential training in field operations and logistics, keeping their skills sharp so they can be prepared to respond wherever they’re needed,” Dunahoo added. “At the same time, the program will be providing crucial services to citizens of the Commonwealth who may not have ready access to care. This is a win for everyone.”

The clinics will be open Aug. 3-10. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Locations are the EXCEL Building in Manchester; Grace Covenant Ministries/Annville Institute in Annville; First Baptist Church in Barbourville; Leslie County 911 Call Center in Hyden; and Oneida Community Church in Oneida. Patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served walk-in basis. The clinics are open to anyone, ages two through adult, regardless of place of residence. No insurance is required, and an ID is not necessary to receive care.

About the Department for Local Government DLG is an arm of the Office of the Governor dedicated to supporting local officials and communities. To learn more about opportunities available through DLG, visit dlg.ky.gov.