SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras (July 1, 2013) -- Joint Task Force-Bravo, in conjunction with the Honduran Ministry of Health, conducted a medical readiness training exercise, known as a MEDRETE, June 25-26, inside of a school named Lempira in the remote village of Bara Patuca, Gracias a Dios, where patients received dental, preventative medicine and well-being checkups.
"The MEDRETE was conducted to validate the Medical Element's expeditionary capability to respond to a natural disaster or humanitarian mission with the Honduran government to include the health department, police department, military forces, non-governmental organizations, and volunteers with a medical and surgical team," said Lt. Col. (doctor) Bart Diaz, JTF-Bravo Medical Element commander. "Due to the remote location selected, we were able to assist the Honduran government meet some of the healthcare needs of its people in the process."
During the two-day event, the medical team would care for more than 1,040 residents, in which they were provided with preventative healthcare medication to combat problems such as parasites, fevers and even pneumonia.
"The residents of Bara Patuca don't have access to simple medications or oral hygiene products," said Maj. (doctor) Jeff Wolfe, Medical Element dentist. "On average, I extract about five teeth a month in the U.S., and in the last two days we've removed more than 80."
Wolfe, along with three other dentists, would see more than 170 patients, who ranged in age from children to the elderly.
"The regional health center visits approximately every three months, but are unable to provide the same medical assistance this medical team has accomplished," said Lucia Trapp, Bara Patuca school nurse and health center provider, speaking through a translator. "It's extremely helpful, because the medication and medical assistance makes people feel better and creates an avenue in which they can help themselves."
JTF-Bravo conducts MEDRETEs throughout Central America each year in support of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programs in order to strengthen civil-military cooperation between the United States and nations in the region. In coordination with the Offices of Security Cooperation and partner nation Department of Health Officials in all seven Central American countries, JTF-Bravo treated more than 11,000 patients, last year.