An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

193rd Medical Group lives “E malama kakou” spirit

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Culeen Shaffer
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing
E malama kakou is Hawaiian for "to care for all," and that is exactly what 28 Airmen of the 193rd Special Operations Wing's Medical Group did the moment they arrived in Hilo, Hawaii, June 10.

As part of the Hawaii Medical Innovative Readiness Training program, members of the 193rd Medical Group provided free health and dental screenings to the people of Hilo and surrounding areas for six days. Assisting the 193rd was a dentist from the 104th Fighter Wing, Westfield, Mass., and five members from the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pittsburgh, Pa. The Airmen also worked closely with the Bay Clinic, Office for Social Ministry and the State of Hawaii Department of Health. This was the first HIMIRT on the Big Island of Hawaii.

E malama kakou was a concept members of the Medical Group took to heart.

"We were told that it was a humanitarian mission in Hawaii where we will be providing free medical screenings to the underserved," said Staff Sgt. Katie Duff, a medical technician with the 193rd Medical Group. "Not only was I excited that it was Hawaii, but more so because it was a humanitarian mission and I truly love helping those in need."

HIMIRT provided much needed care to the people of Hawaii and also provided a training opportunity for members of the 193rd and for members of the local community. Nurses and medical technicians of the 193rd and staff of the Bay Clinic conducted cardiopulmonary resuscitation and intravenous training sessions for community members at the Bay Clinic's office, Keaau Clinic, Hilo.

Along with medical training, the various medical care given to the Hilo community included cholesterol checks, glucose checks, blood pressure checks, eye exams, height and weight measurements, dental care, and medical background and family history reviews.

"We saw 93 people which in a course of four days with a treatment facility is quite a bit," said Maj. Wade Newman, a dentist with the 193rd Medical Group.

Duff assisted in the medical screenings during the mission but she also had the opportunity to entertain children while family members were being screened, making a significant impact on both the children and their families.

"At one of the health fairs I made friends with a little boy that stole my heart and we ran into him on a few different occasions- I won't forget him," said Duff.

Because of the attention the little boy received on his first encounter with the medical group the next time he saw them he immediately ran up and tagged some Airmen, resuming the game of tag they played with him before.

"Everyone in the medical unit has a huge heart and we were happy to help," Duff said.

The people of Hawaii were appreciative of the care that the 193rd provided and they were sure to express that to the Airmen.

Newman had extracted the teeth of a five-year old named Nalyssa Keawekane. As a sign of gratitude, Keawekane and her siblings made a thank you banner and leis of construction paper and yarn for the military members and the staff at Bay Clinic and OSM.

"Seeing that kid over there (Keawekane) that I treated on Monday and seeing how happy and healthy she is," said Newman in regards to what he found most gratifying from the mission. "She was not afraid to come back and have her picture taken with me and smile with me; that was the most rewarding."

Airman 1st Class April Roper, 193rd Medical Group medical technician said she also found the locals appreciation to be the most rewarding aspect of the mission.

Pennsylvania community members also played a role in the 193rd's mission to Hawaii.

Derrick Duff, president of Mid-State Occupational Health Services, Williamsport, Pa., and father of Staff Sgt. Katie Duff, loaned four cholesterol machines to the Medical Group. This proved to be beneficial because many Hawaiians had not had their cholesterol checked in years and for some this was their first time.

Staff Sgt. Chris Frederickson, 193rd medical administration specialist, works at Washington Elementary, Barto, Pa. She spoke with a fellow teacher, Julee Carns, about her concern of keeping the Hawaiian children entertained while their family received the free health screenings. Carns is the monitor of a council made up of Washington Elementary students called the Kindness Council. This group raised more than $200 to purchase coloring books and other items for the children in Hawaii.

Carns also received other donations for the mission which included crayons donated by Linda and Frank Gerhinger of National Penn Bank, Barto, Pa.; "kids under two" toys from Jen Huffman, manager of the Wendy's in Pottstown, Pa.; and baseball cards of Philadelphia Philly Shane Victorino, a Hawaii native, and figurines of the Philadelphia fanatic from Kelly Yergin of the Philadelphia Phillies donations department.

From medical care to donated equipment and toys, Airmen and community came together to be able to provide to those in need through HIMIRT in Hilo.

"The 193rd Medical Group may only come together one weekend a month and for missions like this, but when we are together the teamwork is unbelievable and we consider each other family," Duff said. "There isn't anything we can't do when we do it together."

High honor

The 193rd Special Operations Wing Medical Group was recently awarded the Theodore C. Marrs Award as the Outstanding Medical Unit for fiscal year 2009 at the 2010 Air National Guard Readiness Frontiers conference in Minneapolis, Minn., June 19. The Medical Group provides direct mission support of the third largest Wing in the Air National Guard, which includes eight geographically separated units.

"The motivation of the 193rd Medical Group was also tested and proven during this year through multiple Wing inspections, deployments and short-notice support worldwide," said Col. David Gann, commander 193rd Medical Group. "The successful results of these daunting missions confirm our commitment to excellence."