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The "Men of Branch Medical Clinic Yuma" attempt their own version of a native Hawaiian dance in "traditional attire" at the clinic's Second Annual Hawaiian Luau April 28. Events like the Luau are used to build morale and camaraderie among the officer, enlisted and civilian staff. This year's Luau coincided with a successful inspector general inspection and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organization review, which allowed the event to also serve as a celebration.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Natasha S. Green

BMC celebrates, builds morale with Hawaiian Luau

5 May 2005 | Lance Cpl. Natasha S. Green

Station Branch Medical Clinic personnel experienced a taste of the tropics in the middle of the desert during their Second Annual Hawaiian Luau at the clinic April 28.

The sounds of Hawaiian music filled the air, along with the smell of a large Hawaiian barbecue buffet with a variety of traditional foods.

"We try to do everything in theme with the Luau   the music, the food and the decorations," said Teresa Contrabasso, BMC administrative assistant. "It's something we try to do to build up morale, have fun, and enjoy an afternoon off from work."

Contrabasso coordinated the event and said all staff members were encouraged to dress in their "finest" Hawaiian outfit. A contest was also held for the ugliest Hawaiian shirt.

The male BMC personnel also held a Hawaiian Luau dance contest with grass skirts.

"We did an all-male dance this time to get the men more involved in the event," said Contrabasso. "Usually the females are more likely to do the dances, so we wanted to get the men involved as well."

A promotion, reenlistment and award ceremony were held during the Luau.

”This is also a pat on the back for the sailors doing so well on the Inspector General Inspection and (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organization) review," said Cmdr. Dan Cornwell, BMC officer-in-charge. "We're not exempt from IGs. We get inspected by the military side and also from the civilian medical side. We passed with flying colors though. The Luau has become an annual event, but this year it happened to coincide with the inspections, so it turned into a good pat on the back as well."

While the Luau was seasoned by a desert climate, as opposed to a tropical one, it was still in keeping with Hawaiian traditions.

"I was fortunate enough to have commanded a unit in Hawaii before coming here, so I knew what should be included in this (event)," said Cornwell. "I really don't see much difference from doing this here and what I did back in Hawaii. There we were surrounded by water, and here we're surrounded by land, but I'm still surrounded by a great bunch of people  they do an amazing job here."

Cornwell said Thursdays at the clinic are training days, so he decided to end the day with the event.

"Everyone was included in the event   we're just one big happy family here," he said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Monique Ford, BMC hospital corpsman, agrees with having a family mentality in the workplace.

"I think (the event) is a great chance for us to get together as a clinic and participate in something outside of our normal routine," said Ford. "The OIC comes up with something like this every few months for us. It boosts morale and is a definite stress reliever."

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Marine Corps Air Station Yuma