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News | June 11, 2015

US-Honduran team provides medical services in Corinto, Cortes

By Staff Sgt. Jessica Condit Joint Task Force-Bravo/Public Affairs

As the surgeon walks into the room, his booties slice through the standing water on the floor and overhead lights flicker. After the scrub technician suits him up, the surgeon takes his position at the operating table with his team and the challenge begins.

This scene describes one of a number of stations at a Joint Task Force-Bravo medical readiness training exercise in the State of Cortes, Honduras, June 1-4, 2015. During these few short days, JTF-Bravo medical providers partnered with the Honduran Red Cross and Honduran Ministry of Health to test their expeditionary capability and provide medical care to more than 2,000 people in the town of Corinto. 

In addition to providing actual healthcare, the team from JTF-Bravo lent their medical maintenance services to help the hospital staff inspect old equipment for safety compliance, as well as the hospital's new anesthysia machine.

Sgt. David Garcia, the Medical Element medical maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge, explained the importance of this service to the area hospital. "In Honduras, there are only a handful of qualified medical maintenance personnel, so it goes without saying that not every hospital has individuals to get equipment up and running," said Garcia.

Garcia's services enabled the hospital staff to get this valuable life-saving equipment into working order.

The team also worked hand-in-hand with two local surgeons and their teams, sharing guidance, experience and information and building partnerships in the process. The surgery team worked throughout the day, performing surgeries with little rest between patients. In the end, the team operated on four patients, removing gallbladders and gallstones from each patient. The effort put forward ensured each patient left the operating room safely.

The medical surgery team was not the only element contributing to well-being during the MEDRETE. Physicians, pharmacy technicians, dentists and educators also provided assistance to the community of Corinto, Cortes.

The medical professionals consisted of Joint Task Force - Bravo medical element participants, the Honduran Red Cross and the Honduran Ministry of Health. Between these three elements, the combined effort provided preventive medicine to patients, information on personal hygiene, dental care, wellness checks, medication and nutrition information to more than 2,000 people in the town of Corinto, Cortes.

Master Sgt. Imani Walton, noncommissioned officer in charge of the MEDRETE, expressed how the exercise not only provided much needed medication for the community, but also taught the importance of teamwork between nations.

"I witnessed the U.S. and Honduran personnel working side by side with the same end goal of helping the local people of Corinto, Cortes," said Walton. "All expertise and contributions were valued as a whole and all members of the MEDRETE were more than willing to help in whatever manner they could."

Though central to the MEDRETE, the medical providers could not have accomplished their mission without help from a number of supporting agencies, including JTF-B Joint Security Force members, Army Forces Battalion members, and Honduran Military service members. They played a key role in the support, security and sustainment of the exercise.

The JSF, ARFOR and Honduran Military forces worked cooperatively to ensure the success of the 170-mile convoy to Puerto Cortes Naval Station as well as to the MEDRETE site of Corinto, Cortes. They maintained responsibility for more than 15 military vehicles and provided security for more than 100 personnel throughout the four-day exercise.

The exercise to Corinto, Cortes came as one of approximately 20 MEDRETEs JTF-Bravo conducts each year. These humanitarian assistance exercises offer services to communities in need while providing joint training and enhancing readiness for U.S.
and host nation personnel.