A doctor speaks to awaiting patients at a local clinic in El Palmital, Honduras, Jan. 31, 2019. The local population gathered at the clinic for health care during a medical readiness exercise in which health care professionals from Joint Task Force-Bravo assisted Ministry of Health doctors in providing aid. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney) (Photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)
U.S. Army Maj. Margaret Novicio, Medical Element dentist, treats a patient during a medical readiness exercise in El Palmital, Honduras, Jan. 31, 2019. The dental team provided both preventative dentistry and extractions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney) (Photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luke Emerson, Medical Element emergency room nurse, takes a patient’s blood pressure during a medical readiness exercise in El Palmital, Honduras, Jan. 31, 2019. Emerson ran a triage room to examine patients and determine if they needed to see a doctor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney) (Photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras —
Outside a small clinic in the mountains of Honduras, dozens of people wait patiently for their chance to see a doctor.
In a remote area like this, medical care can be hard to come by. Families from all over the mountain have come in search of relief from pain and disease. One family at a time files into the triage room to be seen by the nurse for their ailments and they leave the clinic with the needed knowledge and medicine to take care of their health.
On Jan. 31, doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care specialists assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo’s Medical Element aided the Ministry of Health at a local clinic in El Palmital by providing dental, pharmaceutical, lab, preventive medicine, public health and general health services during a medical readiness exercise.
“MEDRETEs are important to me because we get to go out and help people,” said 1st Lt. Luke Emerson, MEDEL emergency room nurse and MEDRETE OIC. “We build up our partnership with Honduras and with the local community.”
In addition to helping out, these MEDRETEs also help JTF-Bravo medical professionals gain experience in austere environments with limited resources.
“I think going out on these missions is important for us because it’ll expand our medic’s knowledge of endemic diseases here in Central America,” said Sgt. Loren Louie, MEDEL health care specialist. “We rarely have chikungunya in the United States or norovirus or malaria, so when we do see stuff like that it’s good to be familiar with the symptoms.”
All individuals who came to the clinic for care were able to be seen. Overall, approximately 170 patients received help for general health problems, 23 patients were given lab tests, 30 patients received dental interventions such as extractions and 62 patients received preventive dental care. Additionally, the team brought 1,540 medications, some of which were prescribed during the visit and the rest were left behind for the clinic to continue to use.