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Continuing Promise 2015 Team Departs Panama, Completes Fifth Mission Stop

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150610-16
Release Date: 6/10/2015 2:30:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs

COLON, Panama (NNS) -- The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Colon, Panama, on June 9 after completing an eight-day mission stop in support of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).

Government officials and residents thanked the crew for their efforts during a closing ceremony held pierside on June 7. A local youth dance troupe performed traditional dances, and the regional band Instituto Benigno Jimenez Banda De Musica and the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Uncharted Waters, played a variety of musical numbers.

CP-15 mission personnel worked alongside volunteers from Panama's Ministry of Health, government and medical professionals to provide residents with medical, dental and veterinary services from May 31 to June 7.

'Our mission stop in Colon was a successful collaboration with the government of Panama, Ministry of Health and the Continuing Promise team. The work and camaraderie that each individual put forth allowed for everyone involved to provide quality care and services at sites to both host nation patients and animals,' said Capt. Sam Hancock, Continuing Promise 2015 mission commander. 'Every person involved with this mission should be incredibly proud of their efforts and achievements. Our united efforts working alongside our Panamanian counterparts afforded us the opportunity to make this mission stop another great success.'

These combined efforts resulted in the treatment of almost 14,000 patients at medical sites established at Centro Educativo Porfirio Melendez, Centro Educativo Dr. Augusto Samuel Boyd and Instituto Benigno Jimenez Garay. Surgical teams aboard Comfort, including volunteers from Operation Smile, completed 211 surgeries.

U.S. Army veterinarians and veterinary technicians conducted an eight-day veterinary clinic in collaboration with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture and students from the University of Panama College of Veterinary Medicine. Working side-by-side, the team conducted more than 340 surgeries and nearly 1,000 animal wellness exams for pets and cattle in the cities of Colon, San Juan, Buena Vista and Santa Rita.

CP-15 personnel facilitated seminars on women's health and disaster response in addition to conducting a variety of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with host-nation counterparts on more than 90 topics ranging from cardiac life support to mosquito control.

'A big part of the SMEEs is to establish open communication and create reliable networks with the host nation,' said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Luke Peet, a preventive medicine technician assigned to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 'When we make strides working together, it becomes easier to find solutions to issues and concerns in the region.'

In addition to medical operations, Seabees assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida, completed engineering projects at Centro Medico Patricia Duncan and Centro Educativo Porfirio Melendez. The work included ceiling replacement, air conditioning installation and painting.

Uncharted Waters, performed 12 concerts, many of which took place alongside Comfort's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department and Chaplain's office, which coordinated several community relations events. Sailors participated in a softball and soccer game with local residents and visited the Sisters of Mercy Centro De Mujeres Colonenses En Camino, Escuela El Laguito primary school, United Way Alcance Positivo, and the Mission Sisters of Calcutta Charity and Hogar Santa Luisa senior citizen homes.

'Panama was a very welcoming country, and we were offered many locations to interact with people of all ages and walks of life,' said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Coreson. 'The diversity of our projects allowed us to reach even more residents outside of the medical sites.'

Comfort will transit through the Panama Canal as it heads to the next mission stop in El Salvador. The CP-15 medical team will establish medical outreach sites at Centro Escuela 'Lisandro Larn Zepeda' in Acajutla and Centro Escolar 'Doctor Eduardo Enrique Barrientos' in San Julian. CBMU-202 will conduct engineering projects at Escuela de Education Especial de Acajutla and Instituto Nacional de Acajutla.

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, subject matter expert exchanges, 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.

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