Continuing Promise Doctors, Nurses Host Nicaraguan Exchanges

Story Number: NNS101006-21Release Date: 10/6/2010 2:36:00 PM
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By Lt. Jacqui Barker, Continuing Promise 2010 Public Affairs

BLUEFIELDS, Nicaragua (NNS) -- Doctors and nurses assigned to the joint Continuing Promise 2010 (CP10) team conducted several successful subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) Sept. 14-24 during a ten day visit to Bluefields, Nicaragua.

CP10 - Partnership of the Americas - is a four-month, eight-country humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission delivering medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support services to host nation countries.

In Nicaragua, part of the medical support included bio-medical and preventive medicine support in way of SMEEs.

The CP10 medical staff is comprised of accredited active and reserve personnel from the United States Armed Forces as well as doctors from Germany, Netherlands, France, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Paraguay.

According to Cmdr. Vivian Sersen, USN, a perioperative clinical nurse specialist from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Nicaraguan SMEEs were the best thus far in the mission.

"Colombia doctors loved my lecture series - but the Nicaraguan experience covered from the registered nurse experience, to general medicine doctor, to the most advanced specialty of physician - a pediatrician and a neonatal specialist - Dr. Jason Higginson," Sersen said. "Nicaragua was the most productive SMEE of the CP10 mission thus far. Most of that success is due to the expert Spanish translators from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF), Staff Sgt. Jonathan Baker, Lance Cpl. Reinaldo Reyes and Lance Cpl. Marcos Olivia."

Sersen said the host nation hospital staff, including Dr. Alma Rosa, local hospital's sub-director and Lydia Ruise, the hospital's charge nurse, were critical in coordinating the availability of key experts and audiences for the most optimal impact.

The event also marked the first surgical SMEE, with 14 surgical specialists visiting the local hospital's surgical team, with the General Surgeon and Ophthalmologist exchanges being the highlight of the two days of exchanges.

Sersen, who is a certified Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and TRAUMA Nursing Care Course (TNCC) instructor, also has a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration. She led an exchange in sterilization, through a comprehensive infection control survey.

"I love education. I love to teach," Sersen said. "Never has a country been so welcoming to be surveyed and willing to change their infection control policies to improve their practices, which will significantly decrease their risk of infections in all areas of their hospital."

Sersen said she learned lessons from the SMEE, including plans for future surgical SMEEs coinciding with surgical specialties in the operating room to assure optimal exchanges.

Other medical Nicaraguan SMEEs included: a pediatric discussion with Lt. Cmdr. Jason Higginson, USN, who provided a neonatal sepsis lecture; radiology with a non-governmental organization (NGO) radiologist with Project Hope; anesthesia with German doctor Cmdr. Dianna Seemann; and an Emergency Room exchange with German navy doctor Cmdr. Marko Seelig and Dutch Nurse Specialist Susanne Hagenaars.

Seemann's SMEE goals incorporated several of the individual SMEE topics. Specific goals included simply plotting responsibilities within the hospital, developing a catalogue of diagnostic and patient treatment opportunities, define future vertex points for future Continuing Promise missions.

Seemann said that adequate assistance is dependent upon knowledge of a situation beforehand.

"Help has various faces that can only be based on the right questions," said Seemann. "I wish that both sides can improve their support for each other in defiance of different expectations."

The radiology SMEE included an NGO, Project Hope physician, Dr. Mary Burry's exchange on ultrasound and regular radiology films. Burry partnered with two host nation radiologists and not only helped them learn, but also learned from them.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit

Sailors conduct a veterinary civic event in Nicaragua.
100921-N-1531D-242 BLUEFIELDS, Nicaragua (Sept. 21, 2010) Army Pfc. Angela McCormick, from Sacramento, Calif., embarked aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), administers a deworming vaccine to a giant pet rodent during a Continuing Promise 2010 veterinary civic event. Iwo Jima is anchored off the coast of Nicaragua conducting a Continuing Promise 2010 humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathen Davis)
September 22, 2010
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