News: US and Panamanian medical professionals partner to provide care
Story by Capt. Katharine Zaccaria
YAVISA, Panama - U.S. Army medical professionals partnered with Panamanian medical professionals at Dr. Manuel A. Nieto Hospital located in Metete, Panama, May 14 in support of Beyond the Horizons-Panama 2013.
The purpose of this partnership is to provide free medical care to local Panamanians, and to provide training for U.S. Army medical professionals during this Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) for Beyond the Horizons-Panama 2013.
“We realized that we have one mission and that is to train, and the second one is not only to train ourselves, but to take care of the local people and provide healthcare,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jacob L. Dye, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the MEDRETE.
This medical partnership site provided general medical care, dental care, ophthalmology and pharmacy care from U.S. Army medical professionals assigned to units throughout the U.S.
General medical care for both children and adults was offered at this medical partnership site. One of the greatest successes, said Dye, was the opportunity to deliver a new baby. Children receive screening for typical childhood diseases, and adults receive screening for typical adult disorders like diabetes and hypertension.
Dr. Blat Reyes of the Nieto Hospital is grateful for the opportunity to work side-by-side with the U.S. medical professionals. “They have a good work ethic and are nice to work with,“ said Reyes.
When the local people find out that a partnership with the U.S. is available, “it is sort of like winning the lottery. They know that when the Americans are coming, they have medicine, they know [the U.S.] offers [medical assistance] that they can’t get for free [here],” said Dr. Reyes.
Dental professionals saw, on average, 24 patients per day.
“This is the best thing that the U.S. military can do to help people from other countries,” said Maj. Francisco J. Catala, a dentist with U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, Surgeon General’s Office from Langley Air Force Base, Va.
“This is a great operation to meet dental professionals from other countries and other organizations,” said Lt. Col. Diana Zschaschel, 185th Medical Company Dental Services.
Zschaschel used this partnership opportunity to train enlisted soldiers in the dental field and to provide dental care to local Panamanians.
“The people here are very appreciative of the work that we do,” said Zschaschel.
Eye exams and vision care are much-needed service being provided to the local Panamanians as well.
“We have 2,000 pairs of glasses to give out,” said Capt. Jess Mendenhall, ophthalmologist with the 362nd Medical Company.
Mendenhall treats as many patients as he can, mainly prescribing corrective eyeglasses. Medical care is not the only service provided to the local residents. Service members also spend quality time with the patients learning about their families and culture.
“I was impressed by how much the service members care about the locals,” said Mendenhall.
Pharmacists were on-site operating a full-service pharmacy offering a wide range of prescription medications to the locals.
“We have a lot of medications that they don’t have, and they have a lot of medications that we don’t have, so it’s a really good partnership,” said Capt. Bryan Debott, a pharmacist with the 256th Combat Support Hospital who partnered with the pharmacy department in the Nieto Hospital.
He worked with the Panamanian pharmacist to dispense medications brought from the U.S. that local patients needed for treatment. The majority of medications, Debott explained, are antibiotics for the children, and hypertension and diabetes medication for the adults.
Beyond the Horizon-Panama 2013 is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, U.S. Army South-led joint humanitarian and civic assistance exercise deploying U.S. military engineers and medical professionals to Panama to build cooperative relationships with the host nation while providing humanitarian services.
The MEDRETE in Yavisa concludes May 25. The next MEDRETE sites in the Panama East region begin May 27.
Date Posted:05.20.2013 20:29
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