Joint medical team provides care in Belize

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Bryan Franks
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
A 46-member team from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, provided medical care to approximately 620 community members here Feb. 28 during a joint medical readiness training exercise.

Members of the Joint MEDRETE included the Belizean Ministry of Health, Belizean military and JTF-Bravo.

The medical professionals treated illnesses including abdominal pain, respiratory infection, skin infection, diabetes and high blood pressure. All patients received a preventive medical briefing from a member of the Belizean military as well as vitamins, inoculations and preventive health supplies before heading to the screening area for more care.

As part of the screen team, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jefflynn Hall, a JTF-Bravo Medical Element medical technician, is on her first MEDRETE and said she finds the experience both rewarding and challenging.

"I like to help people and especially those who are in need ... for me that's the rewarding part of this mission," said Hall, who is deployed from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. " However, the challenge is not being able to do more while we are here ... we can only bring so much when we travel and it never feels like enough."

Once a patient received his or her brief, they were seen by a nurse or medical technician for a health assessment. The patients then saw a medical care provider to receive treatment or a prescription to be filled at the MEDRETE pharmacy.

On a MEDRETE, most members work in their assigned profession; however, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Atkins, the JTF-Bravo Medical Element radiology NCO in charge, who is on his first MEDRETE, found himself working in the pharmacy.

"It's a little difficult to bring an X-ray machine on a MEDRETE, but I feel by just being here doing what I can is making a difference," said Atkins, who is also deployed from Columbus AFB, Miss. "We take a lot for granted (in the U.S.). I've seen pictures from previous MEDRETES, but I'm just amazed at how resilient these people are."

In 2011, Joint Task Force-Bravo provided general medical care to 14,401 patients and dental care to 1,061 patients for a total of 15,462 individuals receiving assistance. The MEDRETE team traveled to the town of Independence, Belize, to continue medical services Feb. 29.