By Spc. Liem HuynhNovember 11, 2017
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (Sep. 12, 2016) - Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet's Southern Partnership Station 2016 (SPS 16) Medical Engagement Team (MET) completed operations focusing on medical services and public health in El Salvador Sep. 12, 2016.
SPS 16 is a U.S. Southern Command- directed operation planned by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO)/Commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet (C4F) and carried out by deployed Adaptive Force Packages (AFPs) in Honduras, El Salvador and Colombia from August to October 2016.
Lacking gynecology training to operate an ultrasound machine was a problem with Operation Blessing El Salvador's Medical Brigade before their engagement with the MET.
However, with the gynecology trainings came from U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tony Silvetti, a gynecologist assigned to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, doctors and health workers from OB were able to solve the problem and provided better medical services to pregnant woman.
"Operation Blessing received an ultrasound machine as a donation but they didn't have anyone knew how to use it," said Silvetti. "Fortunately, we became familiar with the machine quickly and started to train them how to use it quickly."
Silvetti added that the experience, seeing moms who received the ultrasound scan and knew that their babies were doing well and healthy, was rewarding.
The MET, comprised of seven medical professionals from around the fleet, assisted Operation Blessing El Salvador's Medical Brigade to deliver medical services, such as checking patients' vitals, identifying illness and filling medical prescriptions, to 1,400 patients in several different communities around El Salvador in the past two weeks as part of SPS 16.
"It has been a great experience working with the U.S. military personnel," said Albert Rodriguez, Operation Blessing El Salvador's National Director. "Even if it's through education, training, or establishment of future projects that we can do to local NGOs, that's something I'm very glad that we had been able to do."
With Operation Blessing's connections, the MET was able to meet and conduct SMEE with local health officials about CPR and methods to prevent medical outbreak and natural disaster in the future.
"We [MET] started the foundation with a lot of people who never had any engagement with medical teams from the United States military," said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick McKenna, SPS 16's MET officer. "We demonstrated to them that we do have the commitment to the people here. We also demonstrated to them that we do care about what's going on here. And that we do have a common interest, and we want to work together to help solve certain problems that they have."
SPS-16 is an annual series of U.S. Navy deployments focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America and the Caribbean. U.S. military teams work with partner nation forces during naval-focused training exercises, military-to-military engagements and community relations projects in an effort to enhance partnerships with regional maritime activities and improve the operational readiness of participants.