New Horizons 19 MEDRETE: Medical Providers Treat 9,575 Guyanese Patients

The Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) team for exercise New Horizons 2019 saw their final patient July 12, in Linden, Guyana, at the Egbert Benjamin Expedition and Conference Centre.
U.S. Southern Command | 22 August 2019

Capacity Building

U.S. Air Force Colonel Christopher McNulty, surgeon general assigned to 12th Air Force/Air Forces Southern, speaks with a Guyanese patient at a Medical Readiness Training Exercise during New Horizons 2019 in Linden, Guyana, July 2. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Derek Seifert)

The MEDRETE provided services in family health, women’s health, dental, veterinary, dermatology, optometry, physical therapy, dietician, and pediatrics to local Guyanese. 

“A Medical Readiness Training Exercise is where a predetermined group of doctors, nurses, technicians, and pharmacy get together to train on deploying in a contingency type moment,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Meredith Sarda, medical training exercise officer in charge deployed from Vandenberg Air Force Base. “We are here to learn how to put up a hospital and take care of patients in a worldwide contingency such as a hurricane or tsunami.”

During the two-week training exercise, New Horizons medical providers working alongside host nation medics and nongovernmental organizations saw and treated a total of 9,575 patients. 

This is the total number of patients each medical service treated: 1,211 general medicine, 666 dental, 375 pediatrics, 1,430 optometry, 158 physical therapy, 391 dietician, 326 women’s health, 467 dermatology, 725 veterinary, 3,826 pharmacy.

According to Lt. Col. Sarda, MEDRETEs give U.S. military medical providers the opportunity to evaluate and treat uncommon diseases and illnesses they would not normally see in the United States. 

A U.S. Air Force dental technician performs an examination on a Guyanese patient at a Medical Readiness Training Exercise during New Horizons 2019 in Linden, Guyana, July 2. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Derek Seifert)

“We get to see things that we don’t get to see in the United States,” said Lt. Col. Sarda. “Conditions that have not been treated at all in Guyana, but in the States we would have seen them in the early stages and referred them to a specialist that would have prevented the manifestations of diseases.”

President of Guyana David A. Granger also acknowledged the impact of New Horizons. During the U.S. Embassy’s 4th of July party (243rd anniversary of the United States independence), President Granger addressed the importance previous New Horizons exercise iterations and the current one have for the Guyanese people.

“Guyana continues to benefit from U.S. Southern Command New Horizons series of projects, which began 15 years ago,” said Granger. “The current project has contributed to Guyana’s public health and public education systems, to the building of clinics, community centers, schools, and the hosting of medical outreaches. All of these promote peace and stability and augment the development of the social infrastructure, so necessary to improving citizen’s quality of life.”

This MEDRETE tasked U.S. Air Force and Army medics to deploy to a unique and challenging environment, where they exceeded expeditionary medical training objectives and demonstrated their ability to provide humanitarian assistance in coalition with host nation partners and nongovernmental organizations. 

New Horizons is an annual U.S. Southern Command training and humanitarian exercise led by 12th Air Force/Air Forces Southern in various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This will be the third time that the New Horizons exercise takes place in Guyana, with previous occurrences in 2004 and 2009. During this iteration in Guyana, U.S. service members also worked with the Guyanese people to construct three community centers and a women’s shelter.

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