Cajun Care 2014 allows ANG Airmen to provide team-based care

Senior Airman Deborah Cerwonka, 177th Medical Group optometry technician, checks a patient’s eyes for glaucoma during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas could receive free optometry, dental and medical services. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Airman Deborah Cerwonka, 177th Medical Group optometry technician, checks a patient’s eyes for glaucoma during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas could receive free optometry, dental and medical services. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Master Sgt. Emily Decker, 115th Medical Group dental technician, packages sanitized dental instruments during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, Air National Guard and Navy personnel pulled more than 1,000 teeth. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Master Sgt. Emily Decker, 115th Medical Group dental technician, packages sanitized dental instruments during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, Air National Guard and Navy personnel pulled more than 1,000 teeth. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Tech. Sgt. Sharon Breeden, 115th Medical Group medical administrator, checks optometry patients in during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas could receive free optometry, dental and medical services from Air National Guard and Navy personnel. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Tech. Sgt. Sharon Breeden, 115th Medical Group medical administrator, checks optometry patients in during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas could receive free optometry, dental and medical services from Air National Guard and Navy personnel. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Navy and Air National Guard personnel use a chicken leg to practice putting sutures in a cut during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. The different services used the 10-day mission to train together, and provide health, dental and optometry services to local residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Navy and Air National Guard personnel use a chicken leg to practice putting sutures in a cut during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. The different services used the 10-day mission to train together, and provide health, dental and optometry services to local residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Red, numbered craft sticks are found on the front counter of the Heritage Manor building during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. The sticks were handed out to patients to identify the treatment they wanted. The red sticks were used for medical appointments, blue sticks were used for dental appointments, and white sticks were used for optometry appointments. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given out colored popsicle sticks to more than 2,100 people, saving them more than $175,000 in medical services. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Red, numbered craft sticks are found on the front counter of the Heritage Manor building during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. The sticks were handed out to patients to identify the treatment they wanted. The red sticks were used for medical appointments, blue sticks were used for dental appointments, and white sticks were used for optometry appointments. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given out colored popsicle sticks to more than 2,100 people, saving them more than $175,000 in medical services. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Master Sgt. Lisa DiSalvo, 115th Medical Group superintendent of administrative services, cleans a patient’s teeth during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, Air National Guard and Navy personnel provided dental, optometry and medical services to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Master Sgt. Lisa DiSalvo, 115th Medical Group superintendent of administrative services, cleans a patient’s teeth during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, Air National Guard and Navy personnel provided dental, optometry and medical services to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Airman Jackie Greathouse, 115th Medical Group medical technician, checks medical patients in during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas could receive free optometry, dental and medical services from Air National Guard and Navy personnel. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Airman Jackie Greathouse, 115th Medical Group medical technician, checks medical patients in during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. During the 10-day mission, residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas could receive free optometry, dental and medical services from Air National Guard and Navy personnel. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Medical equipment sits on a table in the vitals room during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Medical equipment sits on a table in the vitals room during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Capt. Erin Lutterman, 115th Medical Group registered nurse, checks the vitals on her patient during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical, dental and optometry care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Capt. Erin Lutterman, 115th Medical Group registered nurse, checks the vitals on her patient during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical, dental and optometry care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Maj. Rachel Neisner, 173rd Medical Group, checks the vitals on her patient during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)
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Maj. Rachel Neisner, 173rd Medical Group, checks the vitals on her patient during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Airman Spring Miller, 115th Medical Group optometry, tests a patient’s eyesight during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. Cajun Care 2014 took place in an old nursing home and was modified to meet the needs of the medical personnel. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)
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Senior Airman Spring Miller, 115th Medical Group optometry, tests a patient’s eyesight during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. Cajun Care 2014 took place in an old nursing home and was modified to meet the needs of the medical personnel. After the eighth day of the 10-day mission, Air National Guard, Navy and Army personnel had already given free medical care to more than 2,100 people. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Col. John G. Tugwell, 186th Medical Group chief optometrist, determines the current prescription on a patient’s eye glasses during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. Once he determined new prescriptions for his patients, they were able to have glasses made at no charge to them. Patients were encouraged to come back the next day to pick up their free eye glasses. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)
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Col. John G. Tugwell, 186th Medical Group chief optometrist, determines the current prescription on a patient’s eye glasses during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. Once he determined new prescriptions for his patients, they were able to have glasses made at no charge to them. Patients were encouraged to come back the next day to pick up their free eye glasses. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

A chicken leg is sutured as part of a training exercise for Air National Guard and Navy personnel during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. The different services used the 10-day mission to train together, and provide health, dental and optometry services to local residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)
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A chicken leg is sutured as part of a training exercise for Air National Guard and Navy personnel during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. The different services used the 10-day mission to train together, and provide health, dental and optometry services to local residents of Abbeville, La., and the surrounding areas. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Lt. Col. Brad Meyers, 115th Fighter Wing medical group, briefs patients during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. Meyers briefed the importance of hand-washing, discussed nutritional advice, encouraged exercise, provided an overview of dental health, recommended tips for preventing falls and encouraged use of bike helmets, seatbelts and car seats. After the briefing was complete, patients were sent to the medical, dental and optometry areas for consultations and treatment, if necessary. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)
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Lt. Col. Brad Meyers, 115th Fighter Wing medical group, briefs patients during Cajun Care 2014 in Abbeville, La., March 2, 2014. Meyers briefed the importance of hand-washing, discussed nutritional advice, encouraged exercise, provided an overview of dental health, recommended tips for preventing falls and encouraged use of bike helmets, seatbelts and car seats. After the briefing was complete, patients were sent to the medical, dental and optometry areas for consultations and treatment, if necessary. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

ABBEVILLE, La. -- For 10 days straight, Air National Guard Airmen from more than 12 different units across the United States, helped Louisiana residents with their health, dental and optometry needs.
 
A group of 15 service members from various units were the first to set up for Cajun Care 2014, which took place in Abbeville, La., Feb. 25-March 6.

"We came down three days prior to the arrival of the main body," said Senior Master Sgt. James F. McCloskey, 177th Medical Group and Cajun Care 2014 non-commissioned officer in-charge. "The early arrival gave us time to prepare."

Combined, more than 100 ANG and Navy personnel joined them Feb. 23.

"We gave them their lodging on the first day, and then we all went to Shucks for a cultural brief," McCloskey said.

The night at Shucks, a local restaurant, gave the group a chance to integrate themselves into the community by meeting local residents and building a better understanding of the community's healthcare needs.

The second day allowed the Guardsmen an opportunity to work with and get to know their Navy counterparts. By doing so, they were able to prove their ability to provide needed services to others from a deployed location.

"We have a concept in family medicine, which is my specialty, called team-based care," said Lt. Col. Franklin "Brad" Meyers, 115th Fighter Wing medical group and Cajun Care 2014 participant. "This is the picture of team-based care. It's not just Air teams and not just Navy teams, but Air and Navy teams working together."

The ANG and Navy personnel's team-based care took place throughout Cajun Care 2014, allowing them to service more than 3,000 civilian patients.

Appointments were not given out to any of these patients. Due to the demand for services, Cajun Care 2014 operated under a first-come, first served basis.

Patients started the process by waiting outside the building. They were ushered by Guardsmen into the facility in groups of 30-40 people.

Once inside, the patients were required to attend 15-30 minute briefings before they were moved to waiting areas to be seen by nurses and doctors.

Meyers was one of the daily briefers.

"One thing we had discussed early on was the importance of doing some patient education, so everyone is receiving 15 minutes of education prior to treatment," Meyers said. "We routinely briefed the importance of hand-washing, discussed nutritional advice, encouraged exercise, provided an overview of dental health, recommended tips for preventing falls and encouraged use of bike helmets, seatbelts and car seats."

According to Meyers, the briefing also gave an overview of eye care, and the need for glaucoma screening and annual diabetic eye check-ups.

Once the Louisiana residents received their briefings, they were each given a different colored craft stick. Red, blue and white craft sticks were used to indicate medical, dental and optometry services respectively.

The medical section began treating patients by simply taking vitals. They checked blood pressure and patient temperatures, and if they felt it was necessary, also tested blood sugars.

"If their blood sugar is really high, we immediately have to transport them to the hospital for care," said Major Rachael Neisner, 173rd Medical Group and Cajun Care 2014 participant. "These people need care and we're here to do just that."

According to Neisner, the majority of patients were looking for optometry and dental care.
The optometry portion of Cajun Care 2014 examined patients for vision and glaucoma. If they needed glasses, the glasses were made at the facility and were ready for pick-up the following day.

The dental portion of Cajun Care 2014 spent the majority of their time pulling teeth.
"Their teeth are so decayed they are breaking off when they are pulled," Neisner said.

The environment down here is completely different than back home, for most of these service members.

"On base we're just going through the motions," Neisner said. "You have to be healthy to be in the military, so we seldom see problems. Down here you're working with people who aren't healthy. We're excited to be here, and we're happy to do what we can to help."
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