Once a year (and for an entire week) the Texas State Guard, Texas Department of State Health Services, and hundreds of local service groups and volunteers, joined forces to bring free medical services to communities in our region. This annual opportunity, known as Operation Lone Star (OLS), offered immunization, diabetic screenings, vision screenings, sports physical exams, and more – at no cost to the public.
From July 24th – July 28th, La Joya High School served as a host site for one of Hidalgo County’s locations for Operation Lone Star. Individuals of all ages from any area in the valley that were in need of health services were able to attend any of the 5 sites for OLS. On the daily, people would line outside the school early in the morning, waiting to be seen by a doctor – a first for some who attended.
“We are extremely grateful to have had Operation Lone Star in South Texas and especially here at La Joya ISD once again. Witnessing the tremendous need of medical care in our area is definitely shocking to see. This being my first year to volunteer in OLS made me get an idea of what our community and some of our students go through. For some this might have been the only medical care these families get throughout the year,” stated Albert Sandoval Incident Commander La Joya MPOD.
For 18 years now, OLS has set up services in locations along the Texas-Mexico border from Laredo to Brownsville. The chief driving force behind OLS is to plan, prepare, and practice for a major disaster. State and local volunteers train and work to provide care to the masses, which serves both as an exercise for a public health emergency event, and also to provide medical care to those who need it.
Along with serving the communities in South Texas, OLS also allows local emergency responders the opportunity to practice quick clinic setups and patient care, just as they would in the event of a health emergency.
The clinics are a cooperative effort of DSHS and other state health and human services agencies, Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, City of Laredo Health Department, Texas Military Forces, Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps and community volunteer groups.