Some grappling with symptoms following Red Hill fuel exposure frustrated with new clinic

It was billed as being for active duty service members and their families, but some military members are being turned away.
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 4:08 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some of the first patients at the military’s new clinic for those experiencing symptoms after Red Hill fuel exposure say they’re frustrated and disappointed by the facility.

It was billed as being for active duty service members and their families.

But some military members are being turned away.

Ford Island mother and Navy wife Bel Miles and her two children were among the first patients at the Red Hill clinic when it opened Tuesday.

They received a pamphlet on petroleum exposure and saw a dermatologist for their rashes.

She says medical providers at the clinic resisted any blood tests, but she demanded them.

“She specifically told me they aren’t looking for jet fuel because they wouldn’t find it at this time,’ Miles said.

“But I told her my children have bone pain,” Miles said.

She added, “There are a lot of children affected by the water crisis that are having bone pain and I need to know for my kids where their blood stands at this time.”

Miles also said when they called to make appointments, her husband ― who’s in the Navy ― was told he couldn’t be seen at the clinic at the Pearl Harbor base and was referred back to Tripler Army Medical Center.

“It’s frustrating. My husband signed up to fight for our country and for the military to take of them while he’s doing that and for them not to do that, it’s heartbreaking,” said Miles.

The Defense Health Agency Region Indo-Pacific said in a statement it’s “aware of the concerns shared by our patients.” It described the clinic as being for ‘DEERS-enrolled beneficiaries, including Active Duty Service Members, TRICARE Prime, and TRICARE Select patients experiencing symptoms that may be related to the Red Hill fuel spill,’ but did not say specifically why an active-duty service member might not receive care there.

Since Dec. 27, there were 22 calls to the clinic and 31 appointments made.

Miles only drinks bottled water today and says she and her family started feeling sick long before the November 2021 fuel-tainted water disaster came to light.

“My son, his rashes were all over his body. My daughter had rashes on her body. My husband was feeling sick,” she said.