New Horizons 2009 dedicates new La Penitence medical clinic
By Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker, Joint Task Force Guyana Public Affairs
/ Published September 11, 2009
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- New Horizons 2009 officially dedicated a new medical clinic to the Guyanese people with a ceremony here at La Penitence.
Soldiers from the 876th and 878th Engineering Battalions of the Georgia Army National Guard supported the New Horizons mission by constructing the East La Penitence Health Center. The clinic, built by 185 Soldiers alongside their counterparts from the Guyana Defense Force, cost $370,000 and will serve the local community's medical needs.
The President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, commended the servicemembers and expressed appreciation for a job well done.
"I wish to thank all of those who have worked so diligently to construct this facility," said President Jagdeo. "I wanted to be here personally to do so because it is important that countries like ours acknowledge support that we receive particularly from our friends from abroad. What you are doing here is allowing us to expand one of the critical tasks we have set for ourselves that is to provide a better service to our people."
The clinic was constructed on a portion of bare ground across the street from a school. The clinic will serve many people in the local area. It is operated by doctors and nurses and outfitted with new equipment and supplies. In addition to just having a new clinic, the building will also afford its patients and doctors the capability to reach back to U.S. doctors through the use of tele-medicine.
"This clinic and our partnership here are reminders of the continuing friendship the United States and Guyana share," said Lt. Col. Patrick Keenan, Joint Task Force New Horizons commander. "It brings us all great pleasure to give back to a country that has done nothing but embrace us since the day we arrived."
President Jagdeo said the new clinic will also provide a much needed boost to the health care initiatives currently being implementing.
"It is particularly difficult to deliver on these [health care] objectives, especially when a country like ours is scarce of financial resources," President Jagdeo said. "So any assistance that we receive is very useful."
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a plaque that stands in front of the building. It commemorates the hard work of the battalion and all those who supported the project. Following that, President Jagdeo officially opened the facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony and by taking a tour of the building.
"I'd be remiss not to praise the work ethic of all these men and women," Colonel Keenan said. "They spent countless hours and many hard weekends ensuring they were able to finish this $370,000 building in our compressed timeframe, and give the people of Guyana something they could be proud of."
New Horizons is a long-running, long-term SOUTHCOM-sponsored program that annually provides humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The New Horizons projects create a unique opportunity for the U.S. and partnering nations to work side-by-side to refine skills of their military's engineers, medical personnel and support staff through quality-of-life activities. For New Horizons Guyana, the Air Force, Marines, Navy and Army worked closely with Guyana's Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, to complete the humanitarian mission.