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US, Dominican Republic strengthen partnerships while building hospitals

By Master Sgt. Chenzira Mallory, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs / Published April 15, 2016

COPEYITO, Dominican Republic (AFNS) -- Through a joint training exercise, civil engineers with the 820th RED HORSE Squadron from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, have been working together with their Dominican partners throughout April to build four clinics and a vocational school in the Maria Trinidad Sanchez Province.

Military civil engineers and medical professionals used the opportunity to train on planning, preparing, deploying and performing their jobs outside of the U.S.

"Planning for this year's exercise started about a year ago," said Col. Daymen Tiffany, the 506th Air Expeditionary Group commander. "We conducted planning with the Dominican government to ensure we had the locations, the sites prepared and an agreement with them on what we would do while here."

Once U.S. Southern Command picked the Dominican Republic to host the New Horizons exercise, the Dominican government provided a prioritized list of proposed medical and constructions projects they wanted to make part of the exercise. This list was aligned with the training objectives for the U.S. civil engineers and medical professionals as well as meeting the needs of the country.

"They've been able to teach us some of their ways and local procedures, and we've been able to show them how we normally do things in the States," said Capt. Joseph Miller, the 820th RED HORSE quality control officer in charge. "In the end we'll get a good product that's a mix of both methods that will be sustainable in the future for this community."

One of the chosen locations for a new hospital is the community of Copeyito, which has 77 houses, and each house has up to seven occupants.

"There's a need for a clinic in this area because it's out in a relatively rural area," Miller said. "This will provide a medical facility much closer than they currently have."

The hospital here in Copeyito will have five patient rooms and two doctor's quarters.

"We're very grateful for the support (they've) given us," said Juanito Martinez, a 50-year resident of Copeyito who lives in a house next door to the construction site. "We're now able to have medical care close by us."

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