NEWS | Feb. 1, 2012

JTF-B, Honduran medics see 1,980 patients

By Staff Sgt. Bryan Franks Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Members of the Joint Medical Readiness Training Exercise team saw their final patient in the village of La Bacadia as part of a four-day MEDRETE mission to provide medical assistance to the Honduran communities throughout the region Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 here.

The Joint MEDRETE team which consisted of members from the Honduran Ministry of Health, the Honduran military and Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, provided medical services to approximately 1,983 Hondurans. Included in that number were 1,671 patients screened, more than 300 tooth extractions, 10 immunizations, 96 women's wellness visits and over 2,665 medications distributed.

Col. Matthew Rettke, JTF-Bravo's Medical Element commander, said he was proud of the work and the partnership that the Joint MEDRETE team accomplished during the four-day event which serviced the areas of San Rio Tinto, Cerro Del Vigia and La Bacadia in the Olancho District.

"This was a very productive event that impacted the lives of many throughout the Olancho District," Rettke said. "It was apparent to us by the way they opened their homes and schools and allowed us to set up and provide medical services in them."

During this Joint MEDRETE, medical professionals treated illnesses including respiratory infections, skin infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

There are several mission objectives to MEDRETES, to include providing U.S. military personnel training in delivery of medical care in austere conditions, promoting diplomatic relations between the U.S. and host nations in Central America, and providing humanitarian and civic assistance via a long-term, proactive program.

"This was a great opportunity to team up with the Honduran government and the Honduran Ministry of Health," Rettke said. "This partnership is key and gives our personnel an opportunity to provide medical care in austere conditions similar to what they would encounter in a disaster response."

In fiscal 2011, Joint Task Force Bravo and Honduran Ministry of Health clinicians provided general medical care to 14,401 patients and dental care to 1,061 patients for a total of 15,462 Hondurans receiving much-needed assistance.