U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force completed Operation Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team (LAMAT) in Castries, Saint Lucia, March 22, 2023. During the 56-day medical assistance mission, a team of 29 military healthcare professionals and support staff worked alongside local medical providers to deliver no-cost care to more than 1,100 people in Suriname, Guyana, and Saint Lucia.
The joint U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army operation is part of U.S. Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM) Enduring Promise initiative, which reinforces the United States’ longstanding commitment to its neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean by increasing partner nation capacity and building interoperability to improve security and stability in the Western Hemisphere.
During their nearly two-month mission, medical and support personnel deployed in support of Operation LAMAT performed 184 surgeries, completed 16 dental surgeries, and examined 298 emergency room and 688 dental patients. The team also provided approximately $450,000 in supplies to utilize during their operations, easing inventory shortages at local facilities. Supplies remaining upon mission completion were donated to the hospitals.
In addition to the care provided, the team also assessed and repaired critical medical equipment, including sterilization devices, X-ray machines, dental chairs, neo-natal baby warmers, and more.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with this mission. LAMAT was a win-win-win experience for us, our partners, and the patients we served,” said Major General Evan Pettus, U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force commander. “Our presence provided a truly beneficial capacity boost to our partners’ facilities, and we were able to exchange knowledge, expertise, and insights amongst one another. Finally, our medical professionals received valuable hands-on experience that absolutely enhanced their professional readiness. We are all better for the exchange.”
LAMAT’s goal was to strengthen partnerships, foster knowledge exchange, develop relationships, and enhance medical readiness to collectively combat transboundary challenges between the U.S. and the three nations visited. The mission further affirms that the U.S. is a trusted partner in the region that offers humanitarian assistance with no strings attached.
Operation LAMAT began in Suriname, where medical and dental providers delivered care at the Academic Hospital and Youth Dental Care Foundation (JTV), in Paramaribo, and the newly-founded dental clinic in Redi Doti.
Following their success in Suriname, the team moved operations to Guyana, providing general surgery, emergency room visits, and dental care at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Diamond Hospital, and West Demerara Regional Hospital.
The LAMAT mission’s final location was Saint Lucia, where the team provided general surgery and dental care at the Owen King European Union (OKEU) Hospital, La Clery Health Centre, and Soufrière Hospital.
During the March 23, 2023, closing ceremonies in Castries, the Saint Lucian medical team expressed their gratitude to LAMAT personnel.
“Many of these surgeries addressed issues that our surgical team would not have been able to [handle] with the facilities we had at hand,” said Dr. Lisa Charles, director of Clinical Services, Millennium Heights Medical Complex. “I want you to walk away knowing that you absolutely made a fundamental difference.”
According to LAMAT personnel, the most notable successes of the operation were the exchange of knowledge to benefit all participants and building lasting partnerships so our nations are better able to support one another in future times of crisis.
“The opportunity to work as a team in a dynamic environment is an invaluable experience that will directly translate to saving lives on the battlefield,” said U.S. Army Major Jason Bingham, a LAMAT surgeon. “I’ve greatly enjoyed the knowledge sharing that occurred between our team and our incredibly talented local counterparts. We’re all better as a result.”