A service operation in five Eastern Kentucky counties, Operation Gateway Kentucky Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Medical Mission will provide free, general medical, dental and optometry services to approximately 1,800 uninsured or underinsured Kentuckians.
“Health care is a basic human right,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our administration is committed to providing better health care in all corners of the commonwealth, and this mission will help us reach that goal. Eastern Kentuckians should sign up for these no-cost medical services, which will help our people live longer, healthier lives.”
Sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Gateway Area Development District (GADD) and using $138,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a group of military medical professionals will operate health clinics in Bath, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan counties roughly between July 10 and July 21 of this year.
Services offered to Kentuckians in the region will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We are grateful that the U.S. Department of Defense has elected to commence with Operation Gateway right here in Rowan County,” said Rowan County Judge/Executive Harry Clark. “This is a great opportunity for our community as well as the military, allowing these men and women the opportunity to get hands-on patient care experience while providing much needed medical care to citizens of Rowan County and this region.”
In 2019, the Department for Local Government (DLG) submitted paperwork on GADD’s behalf, supporting its ARC application to host this mission. DLG Commissioner Dennis Keene explained the importance of this work.
“Providing quality health care in this region could mean the difference in leading healthier, safer lives for thousands of Eastern Kentuckians,” said Commissioner Keene. “We are grateful for the partnership with the Department of Defense, ARC and Gateway ADD in supporting this medical service mission.”
“The deployment of Operation Gateway Kentucky is an extraordinary opportunity for the citizens of Bath County. The Fiscal Court is happy to be part of the mission, and we are proud to have the facilities to accommodate the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Bath County Judge/Executive Bobby Rogers. “We greatly appreciate Gov. Beshear and Commissioner Keene for making this possible in our community and region.”
“Morgan County is grateful to take part in the IRT medical service mission,” Morgan County Judge/Executive John Will Stacy said. “Providing no-cost health care to residents in our county and our region is a top priority and will help us build healthier, more resilient communities.”
ARC federal co-chair Gayle C. Manchin added the mission will help Kentuckians and provide real-world training for military personnel.
“As our Appalachian communities recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and the ongoing substance-use disorder crisis, increasing access to health care and ramping up training of health care personnel is imperative,” said Manchin. “The Operation Gateway Kentucky IRT Medical Mission will improve access to high-quality health care at no cost for Kentucky residents from five economically distressed and at-risk counties. It will also provide real-world medical training opportunities for military personnel. This training is a critical foundation for career expansion in high-growth fields, like health care.”
GADD projects metrics for this mission will mirror those of a 2019 IRT medical service mission in other Eastern Kentucky counties. That mission provided medical services to more than 1,800 Kentuckians, military personnel performed more than 12,000 procedures and saved Kentuckians more than $1.1 million on health care.
“Thank you to the military personnel for their humanitarian efforts and for investing in the future of Eastern Kentucky,” said GADD Executive Director Josh Farrow. “We are excited to provide Kentuckians in our service area and region with quality, free medical care this summer. As details are finalized, we will share them with the community.”
Since the 1990s, DOD and military personnel have provided aerial spray, civil engineering, cybersecurity, medical or transportation support services via IRT. Their goal is to improve underserved areas of the United States and its territories, while simultaneously providing essential training experiences to military personnel.
(provided by the Office of Gov. Andy Beshear)