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News | March 20, 2015

Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element brings medical care to more than 5,300 villagers in Honduras

By U.S. Army Sgt Stephanie Tucker Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL), with support from JTF-Bravo's Joint Security Forces and Army Forces Battalion, partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the Honduran military to provide medical care to 5,352 people and performed 11 surgeries over three days in the Department of Copan and Lempira, Honduras during a Mobile Surgical Team (MST), Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), and a Medical Partnership Exercise (MPE), March 11-15.

The expeditionary MEDRETE team convoyed to the communities of Candelaria and La Campa while the MST group convoyed to the Jaun Manuel Galvez Hospital in Gracias to perform the surgeries.

"I was impressed at the amount of support and coordination by the Ministry of Health at Candelaria," said U.S. Army Capt. Steven Humphrey, mission commander and officer in charge of supply with MEDEL.  "The cooperation between Joint Task Force-Bravo, Honduran Ministry of Health, and Honduran Military personnel was phenomenal.  Everyone involved showed extreme compassion and provided excellent health care to one of the poorest areas in Copan."

The JTF-Bravo team, the Honduran Ministry of Health, and the Honduran military worked together to provide important preventative medical information, anti-parasitic treatment, much needed dental services, and a range of primary care services, including treating and controlling a head lice outbreak in Canderlaria, resulting in improved overall health for the communities.

"We performed 11 surgeries, which included surgeries on two little girls. While these surgeries are routine in nature, the local populace does not always have access to such procedures. Our collaboration with the host nation hospital team, Dr. Martinez, Dr. Prince and support staff allowed us to bring surgical interventions that improve the lives of our patients," said U.S. Army Capt. Maria Forstner, officer in charge of the MST. "Many of these patients suffer with pain, which ultimately affects their ability to work and generally just enjoy their lives. The patients and their families were very appreciative. This mission also provided us with great training, especially in an expeditionary manner, by deploying our DRASH tent, setting it up and actually performing successful surgical procedures in it."

MEDEL also participated in a Medical Partnership Exercise with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the Honduran Military.

"Both militaries coming together and working [together] shows the Honduran community that there is a desire for both militaries to do humanitarian works, and it reflects a positive image to the local Honduran community," said Esperanza Chandler a volunteer at the MPE.

"The Medical Partnership Exercise at La Campa was an experience I'll never forget!  I was in awe at the amount of support the Honduran 17th Infantry Battalion was able to gather for this Medical Brigade.  This exercise helped to strengthen coordination efforts with our Honduran partners and enhance relationships with the Honduran Military," said Humphrey. "I believe integrating our MEDRETE practices with the Honduran Medical Brigade allowed both parties to take away positive feedback, ensuring an even better outcome for future exercises and for the Honduran citizens who were treated at this event."

Both medical teams commended the Honduran Ministry of Health and military personnel for a job well done even in the toughest of times.

Joint Task Force-Bravo has been conducting medical readiness training exercises since Oct. 1993. They have treated more than 401,360 medical patients, 75,639 dental patients and 13,230 surgical patients throughout Central America.