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Air show in Honduras aids local hospital

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- An international air show here June 20-21 united aviators, air forces and local citizens to share their love of flying to help save lives at a local hospital.

More than 30 Air Forces Southern Airmen, a KC-135, two F-16s and the Viper East F-16 demonstration team deployed to the Honduran Armando Escalon Air Base to participate in the show, which raised more than $35,000 for Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital here.

The show marked the third year of U.S. Air Force participation and donation of the proceeds to the hospital.

"We are very grateful for the support of the U.S. and Honduran Air Force for the hospital," said the hospital's assistant director Dr. Nicolas Montes. "With the donation from the past two air shows, we have been able to add a new emergency room, surgery room and intensive care unit, and hire more doctors, which in turn allows us to see more patients and provide a better level of care."

The doctor explained the donations have more than doubled the hospital's patient capacity, increasing the number of beds from 400 to 900.

"You are saving lives by bringing a spectacular air show to the Honduran people," Dr. Montes said to a group of U.S. and Honduran Air Force show participants who visited the hospital June 19 to tour the new facilities and visit with young patients in the children's ward.

The hospital plans to use the $35,000 proceeds from this year's air show to build a separate children's intensive care unit and help with day-to-day hospital operating costs. Currently, the hospital has one intensive care unit with five beds that services both children and adults.

Dr. Montes said patients are often turned away because there is not enough space in the ICU. He explained the new ICU will double the number of beds while providing young patients a child-friendly environment.

"For all the country and for the patients of this hospital, this is something great--it means a lot for us," Dr. Montes said.

Master Sgt. Bryan Spangler, Viper East F-16 Demo Team Chief, had the opportunity to visit the hospital before the air show June 19.

"It's fantastic that 100 percent of the show's proceeds go to this hospital," Sergeant Spangler said. "It feels good to know we are able to help those most in need while sharing a first-class aerial demonstration and showcasing our aircraft to the Honduran people."

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