By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk
CP-15 Public Affairs
PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (NNS) - Military Sealift Command hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), departed Guatemala on May 1 after completing a nine-day mission stop in support of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).
CP-15 mission personnel worked alongside Guatemalan military counterparts, local volunteers and civilian professionals to provide medical, dental, optometry and veterinary services, including civil engineering projects at local schools from April 22-30.
Capt. Sam Hancock, CP-15 Mission Commander, highlighted the overall success that mission personnel and Guatemalan host-nation partners achieved during the mission stop during the closing ceremony at Caribbean Naval Command in Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla on April 30. Many key leaders attended the event, including: Todd Robinson, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala; Col. Carlos Figueroa, Guatemala senior defense official; Vice Adm. Carlos Thomas, commander, Naval Forces Guatemala; Captain de Navio Erick Sanchez, Commander Caribbean Naval Command; Dr. Luis Enrique Monterroso De Len , Guatemala Minister of Health; Dr. Porfirio Santizo, president of Colegio de Medicos; and Sonia Judit Palencia, Governor of Puerto Barrios .
"Our joint effort afforded us the opportunity to work together with local volunteers, medical staff and our Guatemalan counterparts to serve over 10,000 patients," said Hancock. "We are fortunate to have worked alongside our friends and partners, further enabling us to strengthen our ties in support of the enduring partnership between the United States and Guatemala - a partnership that enhances our shared values, interests and commitment to unity, security and stability within the region."
Partnering together, CP-15 members and Guatemalan medical professionals conducted nearly 525 dental exams and procedures, more than 1,300 optometry exams and 105 surgeries. The CP-15 team provided care to patients at medical sites set up at Complejo Deportivo de Puerto Barrios and Casa Social del Maestro Prof. Leopoldo Cordn Guzman.
The embarked non-governmental organization volunteers from the University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society, Project Hope, Latter Day Saints Charities and Registered Nurse Response Network also worked alongside military and host-nation medical professionals at each medical site and aboard Comfort to complete the wide range of medical care given.
Additionally, the CP-15 mission crew conducted subject-matter-expert exchanges on more than 69 topics with Guatemalan counterparts. Basic life support, disease and diagnosis, air quality and sanitation were among the topics covered.
The Comfort hosted a seminar on women's health, which afforded CP-15 personnel and Guatemalan providers the opportunity to collaborate with the Guatemalan Ministry of Health to discuss best practices for treating and educating female patients with various women's health concerns.
Cmdr. Erlina Naval, a nurse practitioner assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia, and one of the event coordinators, said working with the healthcare professionals at all the mission stops allows the U.S. and host-nation providers the opportunity to enhance their overall skills, as well as build professional relationships.
"I think the seminar stimulated a desire to learn more information from each other and about different medical concerns women face," said Naval. "Our aim was to empower each other to encourage others in our communities and families to seek medical care if necessary."
In addition to medical assistance and information exchanges, Navy Seabees from Joint Expeditionary Base East, Va. assigned to Naval Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, completed twelve renovation and improvement projects at the Domingo Juarros and 15 de Septiembre schools. The work included window replacements, tile repair, electrical upgrades and painting.
Army veterinarians and veterinarian technicians had the opportunity to visit local horse and cattle farms to collaborate with their Guatemalan counterparts on dairy cattle management, water buffalo vaccinations and equine health. The veterinarian team also partnered with host-nation veterinarians in Puerto Barrios to provide services to the community including free pet vaccinations, spaying and neutering services to both dogs and cats.
Other members of the Comfort crew engaged the local community by participating in community relations (COMREL) projects at the Ana D. Cabrera Portillo School, the Maria Luisa III School and the Hogar la Asuncion Orphanage. The various COMREL teams partnered with NGOs to distribute thousands of donated items including stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, school supplies and soccer balls, fostering goodwill and strengthening community ties with local families and children.
Members from the U.S. Fleet Forces Band "Uncharted Waters" performed concerts at each COMREL location, the opening and closing ceremonies and even an impromptu "battle of the bands" with the local group, Banda Miguel Angel Asturias.
"Having a band at an event sometimes opens up doors to other forms of communication; it's a different perspective people aren't used to seeing," said Musician 2nd Class Vincent Moody. "Each country we visit and play in is an outreach opportunity and it's a great experience to be that bridge of communication through our music."
In addition to events ashore, the Comfort also welcomed several distinguished visitors aboard including Ambassador Todd Robinson, the Gen. Carlos Eduardo Estrada Perez, Guatemala, Chief of Staff of Naval Defense, and Vice Adm. Carlos Adolfo Thomas Ramirez, Guatemala, Chief of Naval Operations for a reception and ship tour.
The Comfort's next mission stop is Kingston, Jamaica. The CP-15 medical team will set up two medical outreach sites at the National Indoor Sports Complex and the Maxfield Park Health to provide no-cost medical and dental services to Jamaican citizens. CBMU 202 has planned civic-assistance projects at three locations, to include a remodeling project at a local library.
In addition to Jamaica and Guatemala, the Comfort also visited Belize earlier this month. The ship is scheduled to partner with and provide support to Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama during CP-15.
Building on relationships created in previous year's mission, CP-15 participants will continue to work together with host-nation governments, medical professional and subject matter experts to increase the overall capacities of communities, while also conveying a strong message of respect and cooperation.
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
|Date Posted:||05.03.2015 11:20|
|Location:||PUERTO BARRIOS, GT|
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