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JTF-Bravo medics see 1,000 patients

SAN JUAN, Honduras - Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Sparks, a Medical Element member who works in preventive medicine at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, gives a child de-wormer after their preventive medicine briefing on the last day of the medical readiness and training exercise March 10.  Each person received a preventive medicine briefing then proceeded to the screening area. Members from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, saw more than 1,000 villagers during the four-day medical readiness and training exercise in the Montana de la Flor region March 7-10. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Candice Allen)

SAN JUAN, Honduras - Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Sparks, a Medical Element member who works in preventive medicine at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, gives a child de-wormer after their preventive medicine briefing on the last day of the medical readiness and training exercise March 10. Each person received a preventive medicine briefing then proceeded to the screening area. Members from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, saw more than 1,000 villagers during the four-day medical readiness and training exercise in the Montana de la Flor region March 7-10. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Candice Allen)

SAN JUAN, Honduras -- Members from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, saw more than 1,000 villagers during the four-day medical readiness and training exercise in the Montana de la Flor region March 7-10.

"It was a very successful MEDRETE," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William Fecke, deputy commander of the Medical Element. "We saw more people than we had anticipated."
Over the past four days, medical professionals treated illnesses including respiratory infections, skin infections, women's health check-ups, HIV testing, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The MEDRETE team which consisted of members from JTF-Bravo, Honduran Ministry of Health, South Dakota State University nutritional team and Mission Honduras LeMars provided 661 patient screenings, 36 vaccinations, 254 dental treatments and over 652 medications distributed.

The members conducted the exercise in the villages of La Ceiba and San Juan, spending two days at each location.

"We've definitely provided care to people who live in remote, austere locations where they had to hike for hours just to receive medical attention," said Capt. Virginia Aguilar, the MEDRETE planner. "In addition to people hiking to see us, we hiked to see them by way of the nutritional team and their door-to-door surveys."

Mission Honduras LeMars, a non-governmental organization, provided dentists, pharmacists and doctors to support the MEDRETE.

While the SDSU medical team conducted a pediatric nutritional survey in homes within the surrounding areas here as well as created a nutrition station. Additionally, when the SDSU team conducted their home surveys, the JTF-Bravo medics provided de-worming treatment to children.

"This is a good example of the cooperation we have with our partners here," Fecke said. "Without us the Mission Honduras LeMars and the SDSU would not be able to get as much supplies to as many people and without them we would probably not have gone door-to-door providing preventive medicine treatment nor had as many providers to see patients."

"This is a win-win for everyone," he said.

The focus of Mission Honduras LeMars is to improve living conditions through healthcare and medicine, water projects and supplemental food programs in Montana de la Flor, El Guante and Esquias, Honduras.

The professional exchange between U.S. and Honduran doctors and nurses will allow improved patient treatment and enhance the U.S., Honduran partnership.

In 2011, JTF-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 local Hondurans receiving much-needed assistance.

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