Army Reservists got real-world experience providing community health care when they participated in an ambitious federal training program in Allegany County in mid-August. Teams of health service professionals treated more than 1,100 patients – some walk-in and some by appointment – providing free dental work, eyeglasses, pain management and nutrition counseling, among other services – in a readiness program designed as a training exercise but with plenty of community benefits.
Sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Appalachian Mountain Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project was held at the Allegany County Fairgrounds August 13-21. Military medical doctors, veterinarians, optometrists, dentists, nurses, medics and an array of technicians, hygienists, nutritionists and others provided services to people from not just Appalachian Maryland but also West Virginia and Pennsylvania. A total of 16,423 medical services, including medical diagnoses and nutrition counseling as well as referrals, were provided.
Pets were not excluded. Over the nine days, more than 1,200 rabies vaccinations, 187 spay/neuter procedures and 257 feline distemper services were accomplished.
Staff from the Maryland ARC program office connected the dots after learning about the IRT program opportunity. Staff assisted local applicants in applying to DoD for services and were thrilled to learn an IRT program would come to the area.
The program was coordinated locally by representatives from the Allegany County Health Department and the Allegany County Human Resources Development Commission, and a “Leads” committee consisting of representatives from almost every area community health and/or related human service agency.
The ARC Program in Maryland is directed through the Office of the Governor. An Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) serves as the Governor’s Alternate to the ARC and an MDP program manager coordinates and manages the Maryland ARC.