SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (NNS) -- Joint military doctors, nurses, hospital corpsmen and non-governmental organization volunteers embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) worked in collaboration with the Dominican Republic military and health care providers to conduct subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) at two hospitals, from Aug. 16 through 18 in support of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).
The SMEEs were conducted at the Dr. Fransisco Moscoso Puello and Central Fuerzas Armadas hospitals and consisted of disaster preparedness seminars, biomedical engineering discussions and several medical department observations. Both the Dominican Republic and Comfort team members utilized lectures and hands-on training to encourage collaboration and information exchanges between CP-15 personnel and their host nation counterparts.
"It's important to see how they administer and provide healthcare, so we can exchange the best practices among our medical professionals," said Lt. Joel Valdez, a SMEE officer-in-charge, assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia. "It's that sharing of information that strengthens our partnerships."
Dominican Republic military members provided security, transportation and interpretation throughout all of the exchanges. Dominican Navy Capt. Carlos Porcella, who served as a spanish interpreter during the SMEEs, said working closely with the U.S. has been common practice in the Dominican Republic for many years.
"The relationship between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic is excellent," said Porcella. "That is why we are here, providing our working knowledge and interpreting alongside the U.S."
Along with the partnership, Valdez said furthering U.S. and host nation education is another top priority during CP-15, which will serve to enhance their disaster relief and humanitarian civic assistance capabilities during future engagements.
"Conducting SMEEs shows our interest in each country's development and provides an opportunity to practice our medical procedures out in the field and learn from best practices," said Valdez.
Comfort has conducted more than 1,000 SMEEs in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica and the Domincan Republic.
Additional SMEEs are scheduled to take place at the remaining CP-15 stops in Honduras and Haiti.
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.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/cp/ .