NEWS | Feb. 28, 2012

JTF-Bravo medics provide care in Belize

By SSgt Bryan Franks Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A 46-member team from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, provided medical care to approximately 620 Bella Vista community members Feb. 28 during a joint medical readiness training exercise here.

Members of the Joint MEDRETE included Belizean Ministry of Health, the Belizean military and JTF-Bravo. The medical professionals treated illnesses including abominable pain, respiratory infection, skin infection, diabetes and high blood pressure.

All patients receive a preventive medical briefing from a member of the Belizean military as well as vitamins, inoculations and preventive health supplies before heading to the screening area for more care.

As part of the screen team U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jefflynn Hall, Medical Element Medical Technician, is on her first MEDRETE and finds the experience both rewarding and challenging.

"I like to help people and especially those who are in need...for me that's the rewarding part of this mission," said Hall, who is deployed from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. " However, the challenge is not being able to do more while we are here...we can only bring so much when we travel and it never feels like enough."

Once a patient receives his or her brief, they are seen by a nurse or medical technician for a health assessment. Once the screeners are done the patient sees the medical care provider to receive treatment or a prescription they can have filled at the pharmacy.

On a MEDRETE, most members work in their assigned profession; however, for U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Atkins, Medical Element Radiology NCOIC, who is on his first MEDRETE, that is not the case as he finds himself working in the pharmacy.

"It's a little difficult to bring an x-ray machine on a MEDRETE, but I feel by just being here doing what I can is making a difference," said Atkins, who is also deployed from Columbus AFB, Miss. "We take a lot for granted (in the U.S.), I've seen pictures from previous MEDRETES, but I'm just amazed at how resilient these people are."

In 2011, Joint Task Force Bravo, Soto Cano AB provided general medical care to 14,401 patients and dental care to 1,061 patients for a total of 15,462 individuals receiving much-needed assistance. The MEDRETE team will travel to the town of Independence to continue medical services Feb. 29.