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    VAMA Partners with Enduring Promise

    USNS Comfort Personnel Treat Patients at One of Two Medical Sites in Riohacha, Colombia

    Photo By Spc. CaShaunta Williams | 181127-A-AY405-1041 RIOHACHA, Colombia (Nov. 27, 2018) – Jauier Andrade, a surgeon...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Navy Public Affairs Support Element East - (Active)

    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kris R. Lindstrom

    RIOHACHA, Colombia (Dec. 1, 2018) – Patriotism highlights an individual’s greatest qualities, from loyalty to their countrymen and honoring them in the way they see fit, to the courage it takes to stand and act when others see little hope in resolution. A patriot commits themselves to a cause of the utmost importance, jumping into the fire when lives are at stake. Accepting detrimental risk for their people, clinging to the disposition; if they don’t act, who will?

    The Venezuelan-American Medical Association (VAMA), partnered with the, multinational medical team, embarked on the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), engaging in the Enduring Promise mission in Central and South America.

    “When we got called to be invited to do this mission,” said Dr. Rafael Gottenger, a plastic surgeon and vice president of VAMA. “We came to work hand-in-hand with the surgeons and doctors on the ship. We are seeing a nice integration with the Navy doctors and the VAMA doctors.”

    VAMA joined the mission to provide medical care in Riohacha, Colombia. Members also hoped to have the opportunity to care for their countrymen of Venezuela, many of whom are migrating to Colombia for access to healthcare. Riohacha is only 60 miles from the Venezuelan border.

    “Being that we are doctors and we were born in Venezuela, we couldn’t just watch,” said Gottenger. “So, at that point, we decided that we needed to do something. We talked about it and decided that we were going to help by sending supplies, trying to create awareness on social media, trying to advocate for a humanitarian channel in the U.S. and also creating a catastrophe committee in case there was a need for us to come and help.”

    After a few days of working in Riohacha and aboard the Comfort, Gottenger was excited to see how well the team of many countries worked together to achieve a mutual goal of providing the best healthcare possible.

    “It’s impressive how well we teamed together right away,” said Gottenger. “It was beautiful to see a child being taken care of by a Mexican doctor, a Venezuelan doctor and an American doctor who worked together for one purpose, and that was to take care of this human being. It’s beautiful to see this integration.”

    Another member of VAMA, Dr. Javier Andrade, a general surgeon who specializes in minimum invasive surgery, believes that VAMA’s value in the mission doesn’t just begin and end with their medical expertise, but also the human element that they bring based on their cultural knowledge and that they are bilingual.

    “I’m here working with the Navy surgeons to treat general surgery patients,” said Andrade. “Or assist throughout the pre and post-surgery process, given that I am fluently bilingual, I can help explain to the patient their condition before and after the surgery. With someone that speaks Spanish and is actually knowledgeable about what procedure the patients are going to have, I think it really helps for the mission.”

    Andrade was at a land-based medical site providing surgical screenings and was glad that he was able to find a beneficial surgery for a lot of patients that they probably would not be able to get otherwise.

    “I feel good about getting these kids onboard and discussing their cases with other specialties,” said Andrade. “Helping the patients through the process, even if it’s just giving moral support or just translation. If I get to do the operation it’s great, but even if I am just assisting in it, it feels good.”

    VAMA members are very thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of this part of the world and that someone is here taking their time to give support to the people of these countries.

    “We are very thankful for the Comfort’s support,” said Gottenger. “And we are very proud to serve our country being that we are U.S. citizens. It has been an honor to be with all these people who have been taking their time to go ashore and to be here to help these people. We are happy to be part of the team.”

    Comfort is on an 11-week medical support mission to Central and South America as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative. Working with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, the embarked medical team will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partly by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Americas.

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    Date Taken: 12.01.2018
    Date Posted: 12.06.2018 00:26
    Story ID: 302287
    Location: RIOHACHA, CO 

    Web Views: 101
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