Saturday, June 27, 2009

Operation Continuing Promise '09

Operation Continuing Promise '09
The hospital ship USNS Comfort is bringing medical,
dental and civic action programs to seven Caribbean,
Central and South American nations during this
four-month humanitarian and civic assistance
deployment. Continuing Promise offers training
for U.S. military personnel and partner nation
forces while providing valuable services to
communities in need. This is the fourth humanitarian-
focused naval deployment to the region in the past
three years designed to promote partnerships and

Continuing Promise 2009 services provided to date
(Missions in Colombia, Haiti, Dominican Republic,

Antigua & Barbuda, and Panama)

Patients treated: 56,000
Surgeries conducted: 981
Veterinary services: 26,000
Prescriptions filled: 72.438
(Are these guys good or what!)

Current Status:
USNS Comfort departed Colombia June 17 after conducting two-weeks of humanitarian missions in Tumaco. The ship's next stop is El Salvador. The Colombia mission followed stops in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Antigua & Barbuda and Panama.

Mission Details:
USNS Comfort departed Norfolk, Va. April 1, beginning a four-month deployment to Antigua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Panama. Each visit is scheduled to last 10-12 days. The ship’s schedule may be adjusted if the ship is directed by the Dept. of Defense to support U.S. disaster relief operations following a natural disaster.

Continuing Promise 2009 is an annual humanitarian civic assistance operation supported by U.S. and international military medical personnel, U.S. government agencies, regional health ministries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and U.S. academic institutions. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (NAVSO/4th Fleet) are the main planning and coordination commands for the Continuing Promise mission.

This is the fourth such mission to the region since 2007 and is Comfort’s second (Comfort’s 2007 mission).

Comfort is operated and navigated by a crew of about 70 civil service mariners from the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

Embarked Medical Teams:
The medical/dental/veterinary crew includes about 650 medical professionals from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Public Health Service, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international partners. Canada, Chile, El Salvador, France, the Netherlands, and Nicaragua will also provide medical professionals for the mission.

Embarked Engineering Crew:
A team of about 20 Navy Seabees is supporting community construction and repair projects.

Medical /Dental services provided:
The primary focus of the medical teams is to provide a range of health care services ashore. On a case-by-case basis, select patients will receive certain medical or dental care on the ship.

The Continuing Promise teams will partner with local health care providers and community officials to provide free medical care to communities with limited access to medical treatment.

These services include general surgery, ophthalmologic surgery, basic medical evaluation and treatment, preventive medicine treatment, dental screenings and treatment, optometry screenings, eyewear distribution, veterinary services, and public health training (plus additional specialties as applicable). Follow-up treatments will be arranged with local medical professionals as part of the planning process.

Construction/engineering services provided
The civic action programs are designed to assist each participating nation in providing local communities with a wide range of construction capabilities and include building repairs and improvements, new small construction projects, utility system repairs and construction/ technical assistance, pier repair, drainage projects and trenching. Projects depend on host nation requests and Comfort’s capabilities.

Donations and Support:
Comfort will also deliver more than 300 pallets of donated aid (food, medical supplies) to selected nations. The donations were provided by a host of humanitarian relief organizations, including Rotary Clubs across the country, and will be handed over to established aid distribution officials ashore, so as not to disrupt local commerce.

The personnel involved in Continuing Promise will receive a wide array of training in how to plan and coordinate a broad spectrum of humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions. An important objective of this deployment is to capitalize on high-quality medical capabilities by taking these skills to places where they are needed and teaming up with host-nation medical and dental professionals. This opportunity is unique and will provide training opportunities and venues that are not easily simulated.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) participating:
Rotarian Civilian-Military Project Iniative, Food for the Poor, International Aid, Latter Day Saints Ministries, Operation Smile and Project Hope, representatives from the University of California-San Diego Pre-Dental Society, University of Miami, and various in-country groups (medical student translators) are participating.

Additional donations of personnel and support will be provided by the Lions Club, Nour International Relief Aid Foundation, Rotary Clubs, Haitian Resource Development Foundation, Hugs Across America, The Wheelchair Foundation, Rabies Control Partnerships, Institute of the Americas, International Aid, Agua Viva, and Paul Chester Children’s Hope Foundation.

Partner nation support:
Military medical professionals from Antigua, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Panama, the Netherlands, and Nicaragua are participating.