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News | July 13, 2011

Surgical team performs three operations for Honduran hospital

By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

A five person Joint Mobil Surgical Team completed three surgeries on Honduran nationals July 12, at a local hospital seven miles away from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.

The surgeries involved repairing a lumbar hernia for a man, removing an infected gallbladder for a woman, and assisting another woman with advanced gallbladder cancer.

"Surgery is very intimate, you're effecting some one's life in a very intimate way," said Army Maj. Lisa Coviello, a General Surgeon from JTF-Bravo Medical Element. "Doing this is very satisfying and I'm honored to be a part of the healing process as part of these humanitarian missions, or helping a soldier in need."

The surgical team, made up of a general surgeon, a nurse anesthetist, operating room nurse and two OR technicians, bring along items including surgical instruments, antibiotics, pain medications and various bandages, sutures and other materials used during surgery.

"The supplies we take are not available in Honduran community hospitals, the patients normally have to procure their own medicines before arriving for surgery," said Capt. Sandra Lyons, OR nurse from JTF-Bravo MEDEL. "This also improves our relationship with the local area. Trust me the people are very great full."

The Honduran doctors also appreciated the assistance as they work side by side with the U.S. military members in the operation room.

"The Americans have been helping us with surgeries since the late 1980s," said Dr. Guillermo Saenz, a Honduran general surgeon. "Their support is incredible and very necessary; without the American team we wouldn't be able to do all of these surgeries and the patients would have to wait. These types of activities help the partnership and image of JTF-Bravo neighbors."

The waiting family members just outside the operating room are also quick to offer appreciation to the U.S. surgical team.

"The American's take great care of the patients and I want to congratulate them for the support they provide Hondurans," said Ms. Lesley Castellanos, daughter-in-law of a patient seen by the team. "I really appreciate the support and hope they continue coming."

Besides the weekly hospital visits, the team is also tasked with providing the same life-saving surgical capability at Soto Cano Air Base as well as supporting military missions and disaster relief.