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Continuing Promise 2015 Departs the Dominican Republic Completing the 9th Mission Stop

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150831-03

Release Date: 8/31/2015 8:31:00 AM

From Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (NNS) -- Rounding out the ninth mission stop of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15), the CP-15 team of joint military, partner nation and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel assigned to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) completed medical, veterinary and engineering operations on Aug. 22.

To mark the end of the mission stop, the Minister of Defense hosted a closing ceremony at 27 de Febrero Naval Base and the CP-15 team wrapped up medical operations at the two medical sites, Parque del Este and Hermandad de los Pensionados, where they cared for more than 10,000 patients over the course of 10 days.

The CP-15 surgical team, in conjunction with NGO medical professionals, performed 109 surgeries aboard Comfort. The NGO partner, Operation Smile also utilized Comfort's operating rooms to perform an additional 93 cleft palate, cleft lip, fistula repairs and lip revisions. Operation Smile is a worldwide children's medical charity that provides free surgery to children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. With a presence in more than 60 countries, the organization has provided free surgeries to children around the world since 1982.

Subject matter expert exchanges conducted during the mission stop covered a wide range of more than 120 topics, multiple seminars, demonstrations and lectures.

CP-15 team members coordinated these exchanges alongside their Dominican counterparts, sharing ideas, best practices and coming together to discuss the most efficient and reliable procedures and methods to best serve those they care for. A men's health seminar took place with Dominican providers at the Moscoso Hospital and multiple infection control seminars were taught to local students by the CP-15 environmental health team at Puello General Hospital.

In coordination with the Dominican Republic Ministry of Health (MoH), the CP-15 veterinary team, which included the NGO, World Vets, completed two days of rabies vaccination programs with two teams at seven sites, delivering care to over 470 animals. The veterinary team also held two professional exchanges with public and private partners aboard USNS Comfort and completed a two-day surgical collaboration with the MoH, private veterinarians, students and faculty at the veterinary medical school, Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. The veterinarian team also focused on military working dog medical tasks and vaccination clinics at the National Police Special Operations Unit and the Regional Canine Training Center.

As part of the two engineering projects from this mission stop, Seabees from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 constructed computer desks for students, installed a water purification unit, water fountains and completed electrical work at Centro Educacion Nuestra Senora del Carmen Primary School, and constructed a fence at Direccion General de Educacion Especial Centro Nacional de Recursos.

"This was a great opportunity to see the direct impact we have on these kids' lives and their learning environment" said Builder 1st Class James Vossler. "I think the new water purification unit will make a huge difference in their school days."

Five community relations events, organized by the chaplains' office aboard Comfort, took place during the mission stop. The Latter-day Saint Charities assisted with the donation of hundreds of school bags, recreation equipment and shoes to local children.

Additionally, the CP-15 team took part in the commemorative planting of trees at the Jardines Botanicos National Gardens during the gardens anniversary event.

"The people of the Dominican Republic have been exceptionally welcoming and appreciative of the time and items donated during our COMRELs," said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Coreson. "These COMRELs play an important part to the overall mission, enabling CP-15 team members to interact with the local community, working hand in hand with the Dominicans to connect on a more personal level, while providing community service to the local area."

Continuing Promise 2015 will continue to the final two mission stops in Honduras and Haiti as the CP-15 team nears the final month of the mission's six month deployment. All in all, nine mission stops have been completed, with more than 93,000 patients seen and over 1,000 surgeries conducted in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica and the Dominican Republic.

Continuing Promise is a U.S. 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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