JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — With U.S. Army Spc. Stephen Eveleth, right, looking on, Ferriday resident Sean Cook covers one eye while taking an eye exam Thursday afternoon during the first day of the Delta Care Project at Louisiana Technical Community College in Ferriday.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — With U.S. Army Spc. Stephen Eveleth, right, looking on, Ferriday resident Sean Cook covers one eye while taking an eye exam Thursday afternoon during the first day of the Delta Care Project at Louisiana Technical Community College in Ferriday.

Residents take advantage of free medical services from soldiers

Published 12:09am Friday, August 9, 2013

FERRIDAY— The Delta Care Project was a family affair for two Ferriday residents Thursday.

The project, officially named Innovative Readiness Training, prepares soldiers for wartime environments by providing free medical services to under-privileged areas, regardless of income level.

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —Ferriday resident Johnnie Turner, second from left, waits in line to get an eye exam Thursday afternoon during the first day of the Delta Care Project at Louisiana Technical Community College in Ferriday.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —Ferriday resident Johnnie Turner, second from left, waits in line to get an eye exam Thursday afternoon during the first day of the Delta Care Project at Louisiana Technical Community College in Ferriday.

The Delta Care Project began Thursday and ends Aug. 16.

Father and daughter pair Johnnie and Rita Turner both chose to take advantage of dental and optical services.

“My daughter called and encouraged me to come to this,” Johnnie Turner said. “I have medical care, but you can’t beat free. Not many people in this area have money, and those that do want to hold on to it.”

Johnnie Turner said he was planning to have several teeth pulled. He said the cost of pulling teeth adds up quickly at $50 per tooth.

Turner said he was also planning to get a free pair of prescription glasses.

“I had a pair but I lost them a little while ago, about a year and a half ago,” he said. “I figured this is a good opportunity to get some new ones.”

His daughter, Rita Turner, also planned to get a free pair of prescription glasses, but her story was slightly different.

“I was watching a Los Angeles Lakers game when I broke them,” she said. “Sometimes the games can get a little exciting.”

Unlike her father, Rita Turner doesn’t have medical insurance, making it difficult for her to see a doctor regularly. She said many of her friends also have problems getting health care.

As a result, Rita Turner recruited as many family members and friends as possible for Thursday’s health services. She said her fiancé, Larry Gordon, also received care. Several of her friends were also planning to receive care as walk-ins.

Patients aren’t the only ones that see value in the Delta Care Project.

Several Central Louisiana Technical Community College students volunteered to work for the project.

One of those students is Dawn Barnett.

“It looks good on resumes and gives us real world experience,” Barnett said.

Though no more appointments are available, commanding officer and U.S. Army Maj. Jim Compliment said walk-ins are welcome from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The walk-in time was previously scheduled for after 3 p.m., but Compliment said he made adjustments based on how many patients were being seen.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 306 people had received medical care, but Compliment estimated 500 people would receive care by the end of the day.

“People seem to really like the quality of care they are receiving,” he said. “They can’t believe that they are able to receive this care for free. It has gone really well.”