PUERTO CORTES, Honduras (July 19, 2013) Cmdr. John Phelps, an obstetrics and gynecology physician, helps doctors conduct a tubal ligation procedure on a patient during a U.S. 4th Fleet medical subject matter expert exchange. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Henderson/Released)
PUERTO CORTES, Honduras (NNS) -- Military members from various medical commands came together to conduct a five-day Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) and water purification system installation with assistance from the WaterStep company at Hospital de Area de Puerto Cortes from July 15-19.
"The exchange was a great success. We accomplished on a micro scale, exactly what we hoped to do on a macro scale with the USNS Comfort," Capt, Kevin Knoop, commanding officer of the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) said.
Comfort was scheduled to deploy to the region this summer to work with partner nations as party of Continuing Promise 2013 to provide medical services and mutual training but was cancelled due federal budget cuts. A reduced team of medical professionals went to Honduras to provide medical support as much as possible.
"We had precious little time and a small team, but somehow managed to assess the medical capabilities, identify areas that future missions could assist the hospital with, built relationships with the local health care community, consult on patient care alongside local providers, and catalyze the formation of relationships with the WaterStep program. The next event can pick up where our trailblazing team left off and take it to the next level," Knoop said.
The medical team identified proper treatment procedures for patients and implemented changes immediately. The hospital redesigned the emergency department creating a trauma bay and expanding space for minor emergencies and improving flow and efficiency. Along with that, they also provided training to nurses on triage and proper patient flow.
"I am very pleased to be able to facilitate sending service members to the public hospital in Puerto Cortes, Honduras. Conducting exchanges like this is the least we can do with the USNS Comfort not able to deploy this year for Continuing Promise due to federal budget cuts. We are still committed to our partners in the region and engaging with them as much as possible to foster that very commitment."
"The Navy doctors were very respectful and made suggestions very diplomatic in reference to patient management," Dr. Guillermo Saenz, liaison medical officer medical element, JTF-Bravo, Honduras said.
The team helped train students to assist with dental procedures expanding capacity in their dental clinic also assisting with Orthopedic and OB/GYN surgeries.
"The Navy sent a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals composed of a dietician, nurse, dental hygienist, preventive medicine techs, industrial hygienist, obstetrician, orthopedic traumatologist and emergency medicine specialists to exchange experiences and information and to build partnerships. This is what the mission is all about, and we were highly successful! I was proud to be a part of this amazing and diverse team on this mission," Knoop said.
Along with the military doctors two hospital corpsmans assisted the company WaterStep with the installation of a water purification system. WaterStep is a non-government organization that works worldwide to help bring people water purification systems. The water created by the system at the hospital will be used to help not only treat patients but also give them something safe to drink.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.