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Why train in Hawaii?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amy Adducchio
  • 178 FW/PA
     The 178th Medical Group, Springfield, Ohio, is deployed to Kona, Hawaii, to provide free medical services to underserved communities that do not have access to healthcare.

     This training deployment benefits both servicemembers and the local people of Kona.

     "It was just published by the John E. Burn School of Medicine of Honolulu that said that the big island had a 38 percent shortfall of medical doctors compared to like 17 percent on the island of Oahu," said Gayle Haunani Hunt, the director of communications and resource development at the
West Hawaii Community Health Center.

     In addition to being medically underserved, Kona also faces issues receiving what healthcare is available.

     "[Our] current economic environment; it's very depressed. We are heavily dependent, especially on the Kona coast, on tourism, and tourism is down significantly. How we usually gauge this is by the hotel occupancy rate. And on this island, the hotel occupancy rate is the lowest in the state at under 50 percent. And anyone who is in the industry will tell you, that in order to kind of make it, you need to be at least 70 percent," said Ms. Hunt. "If you're going to be down with your main economic engine, you're going to affect everything else..."

     "Many people don't have access to vehicles so they can't get appointments," said Maj. Bill Brown of the 178 MDG, who lead the trip's organization.

     Aside from the medical benefits to the locals, serving these communities also provides a training benefit to the 178 MDG.

     "This kind of hands-on [training], that is outside of the military; you don't see in a combat situation," said Major Brown. "Experience on the peace-side complements our war-time training. If a flood or natural disaster happens in the state of Ohio, we'll be equipped to help. We don't get to practice that side of [medicine] very often," said Major Brown.

     "The benefit you get from serving, and the patients really appreciate it, you can't quantify it," said Major Brown.

     The training deployment is scheduled to end June 18.