By MC2 Brittney Cannady
Expeditionary Combat Camera
U.S military personnel departed Trujillo, Honduras, after completing a ten-day mission stop in support of Continuing Promise 2017 (CP-17).
As part of the visit, a team of 169 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps service members worked with local military counterparts, medical professionals and volunteers to provide medical, dental, optometry and veterinary services from Feb. 21 to Mar. 2.
During closing ceremonies at Puerto Castilla Naval Base, Capt. Errin Armstrong reflected on how CP-17's time in Trujillo will enhance the team's upcoming visit to Mayapo, Colombia.
"As we prepare to leave Honduras, I know that we can build off our experiences here to enjoy the same successes at our next stop," said Armstrong, the CP-17 Mission Commander.
CP-17 heads to its final scheduled stop where it looks to continue participating in knowledge exchange and training (KET) events while providing medical services with its host nation partners.
Since departing Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Jan. 26, the humanitarian mission has conducted a combined 12,909 patient encounters in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, and Trujillo. This includes 3,657 dental; 3,417 adult medicine; 2,013 pediatric; 1,625 optometric; 669 gynecological; 519 dermatological and 435 physical therapy visits.
Additionally, veterinarians treated 1,493 animals, environmental health and medical professionals participated in 135 KETs, musicians from the U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Band performed 36 concerts and service members were involved in 15 community relation projects.
"In both of our mission stops we exceeded our patient encounter goal by over 125%," said Armstrong. "However, the importance that people and partnerships play in this mission's success cannot be solely measured in numbers."
For dermatologist Lt. Cmdr. Lesley Hawley, treating patients during CP-17 is a chance to give back and help others.
Consuela Mirandez was referred to Hawley with a pyogenic granuloma on her nose. The benign tumor made of blood vessels would continue to grow unless removed.
Hawley said the girl was scared of going to school because the 2-centimeter growth was causing her to be bullied and have no friends.
After consulting with her mother, Hawley removed the tumor in a procedure that took 20 minutes from start to finish.
"It was rewarding and an honor to have the opportunity to change a life, which leaves a lasting impact on the patient and me. After the surgery, we pulled out a phone and set it on selfie-mode so she could see herself. That smile was worth the whole trip," said Hawley, who is attached to Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va.
The trip to Trujillo was also worth it for Bessy Medina, who took a 40-minute bus ride from her hometown of Bonito Oriental, Honduras, to receive care at the medical site.
Once there, using ultrasound-guided drainage, doctors were able to treat a cyst on her wrist that caused her pain in the performance of everyday tasks.
"I'm excited and super thankful for the treatment and the doctors for relieving my pain," Medina said.
"It was great that we were able to treat her; by having radiology work closely with primary care we were able to offer top-quality service without a lengthy referral process," said CP-17's Medical Officer in Charge Lt. Cmdr. Robert Lennon.
Lennon said the encounter is just one example of how work during CP-17 both helps local residents while giving the 80-member medical team opportunities to increase their professional knowledge and skillsets.
CP-17 is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian assistance, training engagements, and medical, dental, and veterinary support in an effort to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America.