Pacific Angel medical team relocates without missing a beat

  • Published
  • By Capt. Timothy Lundberg
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
After providing three days of free medical care to more than 1,200 Can Tho patients, the U.S. Military medical team seamlessly relocated their mission to another nearby village as part of Operation Pacific Angel 2010 May 13.

Operation Pacific Angel is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation conducted in the Pacific area in support of U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts. It also provides an opportunity for civil and military operators to train to together with a focus on civic assistance. The medical and engineering missions are scheduled to run May 15.

Medical teams from Vietnam and the United States began treating residents in Truong Thanh with free health care services in pediatrics, optometry, women's health, dentistry and family medicine. The move was part of a pre-planned move aimed to further outreach efforts to local residents who may have missed the oppurtunity to attend the other medical event held in the Can Tho commmunity.

Nam Long, a Vietnamese medical technician who was working in the pharmacy at the Troung Thanh medical clinic said, "It's a great mission. We're helping a lot of people who don't have the money to go out and get medication."

When asked about working with U.S. personnel, Mr. Nam said it was hard working with the language barrier, and even though it was difficult and stressful at times, he was happy to help people out.

Staff Sgt. Angela Supina, from the 3rd Medical Group at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, has been enjoying her time in Vietnam and has grown very appreciative of life back in the United States.

"It's an amazing experience," Sergeant Supina said. "It makes us appreciate the health care we have back in the United States and the things that we take for granted. The Vietnamese are very friendly, and I've learned a lot."

One of the Vietnamese patients, Le Thi Bich Tram, who came with her daughter, said she was happy about receiving the free health care services and that she had heard about the clinic from an invitation sent by the Vietnamese government.

Staff Sgt. Aaron Walson, from the 3rd Civil Engineering Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska,  who was doing construction work at the Truong Than Village Medical Clinic engineering site, said rebuilding the clinics was going well and he wished there was more work they could do in Vietnam. 

"The translation has been the hardest part," said Sergeant Walson. "But it's been great. They've taught us some Vietnamese we've taught them some English and I'm really enjoying it."

Sergeant Walson also mentioned that he's really been enjoying the time he's been able to spend in Vietnam walking around and seeing all of the different culturally enriched local areas.

Along with his fellow engineers from both countries, Sergeant Walson and the combined engineering team installed more doors and windows at Tan Thoi and Truong Thanh Thai Lai medical clinics with additional wiring for ceiling fans and light fixtures. The bilateral team is nearing completion of an estimated $59,000 rennovation project at both locations and has finished the installation of masonry, plumbing and weatherproofing at the sites. Between the two clinics, 18 room renovations have been completed.

At the new medical medical clinic in Truong Thanh Village, 879 patients were seen, with 1,385 patient encounters, or individual visits by the patients to the pediatrics, family practice, optometry, dental or women's health clinic respectively. Of the 1,385 patient encounters, 279 were at pediatrics, 390 at family practice, 347 at optometry, 291 at dental, 58 at the women's health clinic and 2,963 prescriptions were provided to those patients seen. 

Vietnamese medical personnel participating in Pacific Angel said they've been pleased to work with the United States in this endeavor and have high hopes to continue these types of events in the future.

"I hope you can do (Pacific Angel) again next year and every year, but in different locations around the country," said Mr. Nam.

Operation Pacific Angel is a Pacific Air Forces program led by 13th Air Force at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii.