Danli, Honduras —
Danli, Honduras – A military Mobile Surgical Team assigned to Joint Task Force-Bravo conducted general surgeries at the Gabriela Alvarado Hospital in Danlí, Department of El Paraíso, Honduras, Jan. 15 – 18.
MST providers are assigned to the JTF-Bravo Medical Element and opportunities to serve in local hospitals help them maintain their expeditionary capabilities while also providing aid and humanitarian assistance in underserved communities.
“For the Mobile Surgical Team this is an opportunity to practice and demonstrate that they really are mobile,” said Dr. Ricardo Aviles, JTF-Bravo medical liaison officer. “JTF-Bravo relies on the fact that the MST is expeditionary and that we can pack, move, be effective and set up to be able to start doing surgeries in any location within Central America.”
The Gabriela Alvarado Hospital, originally designed to serve approximately 200,000 people is now serving over a million and the Honduran Ministry of Health has recognized this area as being underserved. Service members had the opportunity to not only work side by side with their Honduran counterparts but to also learn from them and teach medical students by sharing knowledge in the operating room.
“It’s important to be in this region to show the people that we are their partners, helping their population, taking care of their health, not just operating but also providing medical care and education,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Deepak Deshmukh, cardiovascular and general surgeon with the JTF-Bravo MST.
The hospital currently has a large surgical backlog due to a limited staff. The MST team was able to operate in a secondary operating room so both the U.S. and Honduran surgical teams could perform simultaneously and provide care for more patients within the day.
“We have a joint effort between the MEDEL personnel working in conjunction with the Honduran counterparts, including nurses and medics. It is a very rewarding mission where we achieve goals and it’s a win for everybody that’s involved,” said Aviles.
While they provide humanitarian assistance, MSTs also serve as a perfect opportunity to rehearse expeditionary capabilities by allowing the team to configure, pack, deploy and set up within a couple of hours in a setting they haven’t seen before as they would in a disaster relief situation.
“As a team, I collaborate with my nursing staff and my technicians to find out what kind of instruments and materials we will need and our goal is to continue to evolve and packet into smaller size units that we can transfer in a much easier fashion,” said Deshmukh. “With enough missions we are seeing how we can trim down our supplies so we can become more mobile and lighter in our transport capabilities.”
MSTs are one of several programs ran by JTF-Bravo’s MEDEL that allow the medical staff to hone their expeditionary capabilities and adaptiveness to austere and new environments.
During the week long mission JTF-Bravo personnel were able to provide assistance for 18 surgical patients, including an amputation, hernia repairs, excision of lipomas and gallbladder surgery.
“Hopefully wee are able to help them and give them a better chance at life and health overall. They help us in developing our skills and it’s been a rewarding experience,” said Deshmukh.