Healing Hands

  • Published
  • 452 AMDS

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — The 452nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron supported a critical humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) mission at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where they provided vital medical support to the local community and engaged in professional medical exchange with local medical providers from June 4th to June 16th, 2023.


JTF-Bravo conducts quarterly medical missions with various Army and Air Force units. The 452nd AMDS had the opportunity to participate in Resolute Sentinel 2022 in Guatemala, an exercise that brought together different military units to enhance their medical capabilities. Following their successful involvement in Resolute Sentinel, the squadron received an invitation to participate in the Honduras HCA mission in San Pedro Sula.


"The goal of the mission is to provide medical care to indigent uninsured patients to alleviate the pressure on the Honduran national medical system, improve health outcomes, enhance the knowledge exchange between medical providers, and ultimately strengthen the partnership between the US and Honduras," explained Major Michael Garcia, a member of the 452 AMDS.


Master Sergeant Naomi Gomez from the 452nd AMDS highlighted the significant professional medical exchange taking place between the Air Force medical staff and the local hospital doctors, nurses, and medical students at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital. "I feel like our providers are really jumping in there and teaching whatever they can to their doctors and even the medical students. Their medical students have been with us the whole time, helping us and guiding us through, letting us do things. So, the exchange is very much equal. We've been getting a lot from them," she said.


The mission of the 452nd AMDS holds significant importance as Honduras faces ongoing challenges. Chronic violence, fueled by organized crime and gangs, has led to insecurity and trauma within the population. The region is also grappling with the effects of the climate crisis, including extreme weather events. In addition to these challenges, emerging cases of dengue fever pose a growing threat to public health.


The training received by the 452nd AMDS members has been instrumental in preparing them for the difficult conditions they encounter at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital. Operating in an austere location with limited resources requires them to adapt and overcome daily obstacles in a high-acuity hospital environment. Despite being only two days into the mission, the team has already encountered seriously ill patients and is effectively utilizing their training to deliver the best possible care.


The healthcare system in Honduras has been severely strained, with limited resources available at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital. Beds are scarce, leading to some patients being treated on the floor. Gurneys are missing mattresses or pads, leaving patients to lie on metal slats. In fortunate cases, patients can find cardboard to separate themselves from the unforgiving metal surfaces. These conditions highlight the urgent need for immediate assistance and the critical nature of the 452nd AMDS mission.


The mission also serves as a valuable professional exchange for medical professionals. By working closely with their Honduran counterparts at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital, the 452nd AMDS members are not only providing medical care but also fostering knowledge sharing and collaboration. This exchange of expertise benefits both the American team and the local healthcare providers, enhancing their skills and capabilities.


Colonel Rudolph Gamboa emphasized the importance of providing supplemental medical aid and support to the Honduran people at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital, saying, "Our team primarily is providing supplemental medical aid and support along with the South comes joint task force to provide a to our. Central American colleagues and allies to provide additional medical precautions with specialty care with all the providers supplement and manpower here as this is a critical aspect of the needs of the Honduran people, particularly in the hospital setting."


Major Luther Bryant, a flight surgeon from the 452nd AMDS, emphasized the profound impact of the mission, stating, "You give, but you receive more than what you sacrifice. Learning and making a difference for our unit and staff goes beyond individual actions. The goal is to teach and remind people that every day is a blessing. Appreciate what you have and support one another. Make good decisions and remember how fortunate we are."


The efforts of the 452nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron at the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital exemplify the power of humanitarian assistance in transforming lives and restoring dignity during times of adversity. Their commitment to addressing urgent healthcare needs in Honduras showcases their role as compassionate medical professionals and strengthens the partnership between the United States and Honduras.