Military Medical Professionals Lead Relief Effort in Alabama

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 16, 2012

IRT has been operating in the Delta since 2009. The training program was in Mississippi and Arkansas in previous years. Massingill says IRT looks to expand in 2013 and beyond to include multiple missions simultaneously in several Delta states in great part because of the demand for care.

"It affirms in my mind how important it is that we address the issue of affordable accessible quality healthcare in our part of the world, particularly in areas that are economically distressed and medically underserved," he says.

"You can see the sheer numbers of people and the stories that come out when they go through their IRT program and have the opportunity to have their eyes checked or have a cavity filled or see a physician for hypertensions or diabetes, which are big issues in our part of the world."

With a mixture of pride, appreciation, and frustration, Massingill laments that it take a military exercise to bring quality healthcare to the nation's poorest regions.

"We still suffer tremendously from the issue of affordable accessible quality healthcare in rural America and particularly in the Delta region," Massingill says. "If we don't address these issues it impacts our ability to be competitive and maintain strong communities and strong economies."

"You cannot have a healthy workforce without a healthy community," he says. "And there are many people, many Americans in our part of the world that simply cannot afford or have the ability to access quality healthcare."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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