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News | May 1, 2014

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element provides health screening; education for Honduran senior citizens

By Capt. Steven Stubbs Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Joint Task Force- Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL), with support from all Joint Task Force-Bravo commands, hosted the Soto Cano Air Base Senior Health Engagement providing valuable health and wellness information, a base tour, and some entertainment to 133 Honduran senior citizens from Cane, La Paz, April 30.

During a recent Key Leader Engagement between U. S. Army Col. Thomas Boccardi, Joint Task Force-Bravo commander, and the mayor of Cane, a request was made by the mayor to bring the group to the base for a tour as part of their monthly program. Since the group would already be on base, the idea to perform health screenings for them was added to the agenda to increase their awareness of potential health issues.

"We conducted two primary health screenings which were blood sugar and blood pressure screenings," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jewell Hemmings, the MEDEL Community Health Nurse and officer in charge of the health fair. "We did a brief survey of the community, through the JTF-Bravo Civil-Military Operations office, prior to them arriving so we were able to get an overview of what some of their needs might be. We found that there were many who were concerned with or actually already being treated for hypertension."

The group also received patient education related to blood pressure, blood sugar, exercise, muscle strength, balance and good oral hygiene as they age.

After the screenings and classes were finished, the group of senior citizens were able to turn back the hands of time and act young again as they were treated to dance lessons and the opportunity to dance with members from Joint Task Force-Bravo.

"We were told that this group is very active and they do some type of aerobic activity three times a week," said Hemmings. "So we figured that we would include something fun and light-hearted for them. We were able to loosen up and interact with them in an informal manner. Dancing is something that happens in pretty much every community so it's a way to communicate without necessarily having to speak the same language."

Mr. Luis Alonzo Martinez Andrade was very excited and appreciative of the care and instruction that he received at the health fair.

"It was a big motivation to come here and enjoy the music and get some education about how to take care of my body," said Martinez. "I want to thank everyone's kindness and for being great hosts and thank you for caring for us. We hope this isn't the first and last time we're here because we truly enjoy sharing with you."

Anytime the lives of those from the surrounding area can be enhanced, the relationship between Joint Task Force-Bravo and those communities will continue to grow.

"It's always good to reach out, and before we depart, leave an added benefit to the Honduran communities who have been so welcoming," said Hemmings. "So anytime we can do something that helps to improve their life that to me is an asset. It helps us to build relationships among us and the Honduran people that will last for many years to come."

Joint Task Force-Bravo's MEDEL is composed of 64 Army personnel who have come together from across the United States and have provided medical care to more than 8,000 people in Honduras over the last 12 months. MEDEL provides preventative medical care, wellness check-ups, dental care, preventative dental care, surgical care, and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua, Tegucigalpa, and through local Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETES) which are carried out on a weekly basis.