Airmen open medical clinic in Indonesia

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Russell Dodson
  • 13th Air Force Public Affairs
Residents from this rural area of Indonesia were already waiting for medical services by the time American and Indonesian medical professionals opened a clinic at 8 a.m. July 16 at a local elementary school here.

More than 300 patients were seen by medics in just the first day as word at the clinic opened as part of Operation Pacific Angel, a joint and combined humanitarian and civic assistance program conducted annually in the Asia-Pacific region by the United States and other area nations.

The clinic here is offering general medicine, optometry and dentistry services, said Lt. Col. Paul Abson, a Pacific Angel team leader here and flight surgeon. Colonel Abson is from the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron from McChord Air Force Base, Wash.

The staff at the clinic consists of 14 U.S. members who are augmenting Indonesian military doctors and a local physician, Dr. Ronald Melvianno, in an underserved area, Colonel Abson said.

"We were expecting to see over 200 patients per day. Our clinic saw 329 patients during the first day," Dr. Melvianno said. "The patients here are mostly women, children and the elderly."

The U.S. contingent at the clinic is finding its own rewards in the experience, according to Tech. Sgt. Shakeera Wright, a pharmacy technician assigned to Andersen AFB, Guam.

"I feel humble being able to provide medication to patients who may not have access to them," she said.

Working with the Indonesian doctors has been a learning experience for everyone, Colonel Abson said. "They have a lot of local talent, and we get training in areas we don't see very often. The Indonesian doctors are really good at treating ailments in a cost-effective, efficient manner."

The appreciation for the talents and hard work of each nation's medical teams was mutual, Dr. Melvianno said.

"I really appreciate the hard work and long hours [the U.S.] team has provided," Dr. Melvianno said. "Pacific Angel gives our community access to medical treatment not readily available in this area."

Two Pacific Angel events are currently on-going through July 24 -- one here and another in Timor Leste. Pacific Angel is a Pacific Air Forces operation led by 13th Air Force officials from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.