SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
200 Hondurans were given the ability to see during a week-long opthamology Medical Readiness Training Exercise in Choluteca Feb 2 at Hospital del Sur.
Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element was supporting the MEDRETE for the tenth year in a row, and Col. Gregory Reilly, JTF-B commander, flew from Soto Cano Air Base to Choluteca where he joined Lt. Col. (Dr.) Darrel Carlton, head surgeon, for a press conference there.
"This is our tenth year for this mission in Choluteca." Colonel Carlton said. "We do about 200 per year so around 2,000 people have been affected directly by this mission."
Colonel Carlton went on to explain how the patients are chosen and what conditions are treated.
"So far on this year's mission, we have screened 500 patients and we're doing 30 surgeries per day. Cataracts are a common cause of blindness and the primary condition treated. Essentially, we're taking a person who's blind and enabling them to see and we're doing 20 to 25 of those cases every day. We are also doing strabismus surgeries. This is a condition in which the patient's eyes are turned in the wrong direction. Because for this surgery, patients have to undergo general anesthesia, we can only do four to five of these cases per day."
Colonel Reilly thanked the people of Choluteca for their support and their friendship.
"Joint Task Force-Bravo has been (in Honduras) for nearly 30 years and our relationship with Honduran people is very close," he said. "We will do everything we can to continue this mission here in Choluteca. It's our pleasure to assist and thank you for allowing us to be here. The success of this MEDRETE is a team effort with MEDEL, the Honduran military, the hospital and the kind people... it's good to be back and it's our pleasure to help."
Hernan Vindel, hospital administrator, concluded the press conference expressing his thanks.
"JTF-B, thank you, thanks to the government of the U.S. for the invaluable support," he said. "Our doors are open; we'll be here and we'll be expecting you. Your work is really important to us, we thank you and may God bless you."
Joint Task Force-Bravo participates in approximately 24 Medical Readiness Training Exercises a year, assisting the Honduran government in providing citizens with healthcare. On average, 32,000 patients are screened and treated each year.