PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- The Continuing Promise (CP-15) team, embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), completed a mission stop to Port Au Prince, Sept. 17.
The mission stop in Haiti included a historical engagement between a Cuban medical delegation and members of CP-15 leadership and medical staff.
Arranged in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Port Au Prince, each country hosted tours and medical engagements with their respective medical staffs, embassy staffs and leadership.
On Sept. 11th, the Cuban Ambassador to Haiti, Ricardo Garcia Napoles, the Charge de Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, Brian Shukan, and several Cuban doctors visited with CP-15 personnel during the opening ceremony at the Amiral Killick Coast Guard Station, followed by a reception aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20).
Prior to the reception, guests were given a tour of Comfort's Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), where subject matter experts explained the role of each medical space and the capabilities of the ship and mission crew.
On Sept. 15th, the CP-15 medical staff took part in a tour and subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) at La Renaissance hospital, a Cuban medical site. During this engagement, two CP-15 optometrists partnered with a Cuban ophthalmologist. Together, they treated a patient and shared information from their respective fields of medicine.
Cmdr. Eric Barnes and Lt. Cmdr. William Hill, both optometrists serving on the CP-15 mission, worked alongside Dr. Zuzel Carulla Mora using a slit lamp to examine the eyes of a Haitian patient under magnification.
"We discussed the Cuban medical clinic's surgical capabilities and the incidence of common ocular diseases seen in the Haitian population," said Barnes. "Learning that the Cuban doctors were seeing similar ocular disease presentations reinforced our understanding of what conditions to look for in the optometry clinic at our U.S. Navy medical engagement sites."
The Cuban medical personnel and Cuban Embassy of Haiti staff, including the Cuban Ambassador to Haiti, provided a tour of La Renaissance hospital to U.S. Embassy staff and the CP-15 mission commander, Capt. Sam Hancock. The tour gave an overview of medical operations at the site, revealing mutual goals that both Cuban and American medical professionals strive to achieve.
On Sept. 17th, Cuban and CP-15 medical staff met for a second time. The second meeting offered an opportunity for leadership and doctors from the MTF to highlight the medical mission and share best practices. The areas of medical expertise focused on during the engagement included pediatrics, general medicine, optometry, ophthalmology and general surgery.
The Cuban medical staff shared similar medical backgrounds with their CP-15 counterparts, allowing for relevant and efficient exchange of information and treatment of patients at the medical site.
"The opportunity we shared with the U.S. Embassy, to collaborate and engage with the Cuban medical delegation, allowed us to optimize the care each of us provides to the people of Haiti," said Capt. Christine Sears, commanding officer of the MTF aboard Comfort. "In each of our mission stops, it has been our goal to provide the best patient care possible. By participating in these engagements, we are able to further that goal by exchanging best practices and observations."
Upon completion of the mission stop in Haiti, the Cuban medical delegation attended the closing ceremony, alongside Haitian government officials, CP-15 personnel, U.S. Embassy staff and other distinguished guests.
During the ceremony, the Charge de Affairs, shared his insights about the engagements that took place between the Cuban medical delegation, the U.S. Embassy and CP-15 mission personnel.
"It is obvious to me that one of the most important aspects of CP-15 is bringing people together," said Shukan. "We all want to see improved and sustainable healthcare in Haiti, and we were excited to do this important work with Cuba. I want to take a moment to reflect on this historic engagement with Cuba in Haiti, where we witnessed Cuban and American healthcare activity at La Renaissance and St. Luc hospital."
By the end of the mission, over 14,000 patients received care in Haiti, with some having been cared for by both CP-15 and Cuban doctors during the collaborations that took place throughout the week. This combined effort was a reflection of the common goal shared by the CP-15 mission team and the Cuban medical delegation, a goal that focuses on providing care and support to the people of Haiti.
Since departing Norfolk, Va. in April, CP-15 personnel have treated more than 122,000 patients throughout 11 mission stops which included Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, 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 U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/cp/.