Troops Provide Free Medical Care to Southern Illinois

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By Evie Allen
By Jared Roberts

MARION -- Free healthcare services are coming to our area, thanks to a military-led effort.

Beginning Monday, June 16, more than 100 Army and Navy Reserve medical personnel will be in three southern Illinois locations providing medical, dental and optical services at no cost. It's a partnership between the Delta Regional Authority and the Department of Defense.

"This is definitely something for folks to take advantage of," says Cary Minnis, executive director for the Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission.

The "Southern Care Mission" is part of the Department of Defense's Innovative Readiness Training program. The event will run simultaneously at the Marion Junior High School, Harrisburg Middle School and the Cairo Junior/Senior High School.

Minnis is the site leader for the Marion location. He says the program allows the troops to maintain valuable training in their field.

"We're happy that we can provide a location for them to do this. And we've been doing everything that we can to make this experience good for them as well as our residents," says Minnis.

Appointments are not necessary, but they are strongly encouraged. More than 5,000 people are expected to receive care during the two-week event. Eye care services are already full, but that doesn't necessarily mean you won't get help.

"We anticipate that there will be hundreds, if not in the thousands, of teeth pulled through the event," says Minnis.

Local agencies will also be available to provide information on other healthcare programs, including Medicaid.

"People need to bring their income information, their names, social security numbers and birthdates of every member of the family, but we'll be happy to help them get enrolled right here," explained Nancy Muzzarelli, director of community outreach for Shawnee Health Service.

The clinics start Monday, June 16 and continue through Friday, June 27. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day except for Sunday. To make an appointment, call 1-866-611-5627.

Cairo Junior/Senior High School, 4201 Sycamore Street
Harrisburg Middle School, 312 Bulldog Boulevard
Marion Junior High School, 1609 W. Main Street

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