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Guard Care program to provide free medical services to area residents

SPRINGFIELD — The Ohio National Guard will be sending 80 medical workers to Springfield on July 28 and 29. The workers are part of the annual Guard Care program that provides free medical and dental services to Ohio residents.

Leslie Wade with the Clark County Combined Health District, says the two day program offers medical and dental help to residents regardless of their income level and whether or not they have insurance.

Wade says this is the first time Springfield has been selected to participate in Guard Care. The Ohio Department of Health made the decision after reviewing the fact that 15 percent of local residents are uninsured and a large amount of Clark County's population doesn't have a primary doctor. 

Services offered by the program include: physicals, immunizations for children and adults, HIV and STD testing, hearing and visual screening, dental services, Pap smears, EKGs, Lead testing for children and all lab work as needed.

ODH sponsors the Guard Care program and selects one county each summer to provide services to and the National Guard supplies the equipment and personnel. Wade says residents should take advantage of the rare opportunity to get free healthcare.

"We are doing everything we can to get the word out because preventative care is important and a lot of people do not have access to free pap smears and mammograms, EKGs and dental screenings. So, this is very exciting for us," she said.

Springfield Regional Medical Center has joined the National Guard's efforts. Wade says the hospital will be providing the lab work during the program and should have the work processed within 24 to 36 hours.

With the Affordable Health Care Act taking a front seat in this year's presidential election, Wade says a nice component about the Guard Care program is that it allows residents with pre-existing conditions to attend. 

"They are welcome. And what we are working to do is to work with local physicians and even out of county to see if we can refer them on," Wade said. 

Congress started the Guard Care program in 1995 with the idea of using the National Guard to provide services to cities and towns that are medically underserved.

The health district is expecting to have between 300 and 800 people turnout for the Guard Care program which will be held at the district's Home Avenue location. Residents will not need to show ID or have medical records to participate.