By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, CP-15 Public Affairs
ROSEAU, Dominica (NNS) -- The Military Sealift Command Mercy-class hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Dominica, Aug. 6, completing the crew's eighth mission stop as part of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).
Working alongside government officials, community leaders and host-nation healthcare professionals and medical students, the CP-15 team provided medical care to more than 11,000 residents at medical sites established at the Dominica Grammar School in Roseau and the Roosevelt Douglas Primary School in Portsmouth.
Surgical procedures and nursing services provided to patients aboard Comfort, allowed for side-by-side interaction between U.S. and Dominican personnel. More than 40 students from Ross University School of Medicine assisted the CP-15 surgical team in the successful completion of 127 surgeries. The students also provided assistance to shipboard medical personnel in the wards, intensive care unit, and patient after-care unit.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I'm so honored and fortunate to have had," said Shoma Sanyal, a third semester medical student and native of Orange County, California. "It was incredible to see [the surgeons] use their skills and years of training for their calling of medicine. There was a passion about it, and it was inspiring for a medical school student like me to see."
Comfort medical providers and bio-medical technicians collaborated with host-nation doctors, nurses, and technicians in dozens of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) at Princess Margaret Hospital and Portsmouth Hospital. Topics included discussions on the best practices for dialysis, electrocardiogram interpretation, infectious disease control, and hospital waste management/biohazard disposal.
Members of the hospital staff said that the SMEEs were a great opportunity to partner with U.S. medical professionals and share ideas for a healthier Dominica.
"We can always learn something new. It's all about taking what you learn and sharing it with others," said Tamika Hogan, the quality manager at Princess Margaret Hospital. "These classes improved our medical staff's techniques and practices for the future."
The CP-15 Army veterinary team and volunteers from the non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vets, partnered with local veterinarians to conduct information exchanges on joint biological agent identification and diagnostics, laboratory procedures, and avian flu.
In addition to medical operations, Navy Seabees assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 in Little Creek, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida, constructed a cinder-block guard house, complete with working electrical and plumbing, and installed a perimeter fence at the Office of Disaster Management.
More than 100 Comfort personnel volunteered at four community relations events, several of which featured performances by the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Uncharted Waters. Volunteers took part in painting projects at an area children's home, a homeless shelter and the National Library. The Comfort's chaplain's office and the NGO Latter-day Saints Charities partnered to donate shoes, books, soccer balls, dental hygiene kits, coloring books and crayons.
This was the first time the Continuing Promise mission visited Dominica. Comfort's will continue the mission with a stop in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and then proceed to Honduras and Haiti. The CP-15 team has now completed mission stops in Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama.
This is the seventh Continuing Promise mission and the fourth in which the Comfort has served as the hospital ship. For CP-15, U.S. services members have worked alongside partner-nation military forces and civilian medical professionals from Brazil, Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Germany, El Salvador, Panama, and Peru to provide medical care and other mission services. Also participating in the mission are NGOs, to include Project HOPE, Latter-day Saints Charities, the University of California San Diego Pre-dental Society and World Vets.
Continuing Promise 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-civil assistance, SMEEs, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.