Operation Lone Star: Health fairs in ‘Medically Underserved’ Rio Grande Valley

The Rio Grande Valley has been deemed a Medically Underserved Area by the federal government for years. It’s with that dubious distinction in mind and the high number of uninsured here that the 15th annual event known as Operation Lone Star is held in San Juan. Those who visit PSJA High School can receive a range of free health services — from dental care to mental health and diabetes screenings — under Operation Lone Star.

Operation Lone Star is an annual joint military and civil humanitarian medical mission that takes place along the Texas-Mexico border. The purpose of this collaborative effort is to conduct Medical-Innovative Readiness Training exercises while simultaneously providing free medical services to residents across the Rio Grande Valley

Texas Department of State Health Services Director David Lakey issued a statement in Spanish about the event earlier this month. “Operation Lone Star offers to people who otherwise might not receive routine medical care the opportunity to see a doctor and learn more about their health,” he said in the news release. “We also hope to connect people with regular care services so they’re healthier in the future.”

According to Monitor archives, in 2011 some 9,907 people sought medical care at Operation Lone star. However, the number of services provided was more than five times that, at 53,046, meaning patients there received multiple treatments. The Valley, according to federal designations, is a mix of populations where there isn’t enough health and mental health professionals to serve residents, and the number of primary care physicians combined with a high poverty rate means a shortage of personal health services.

Population of focus: People residing in Rio Grande Valley

Links to resource:

Date: 2013

Organization: Department of State Health Services, Texas Military Forces, Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, and City of Laredo Health Department