QUY NHON, Vietnam –
Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10) departed Quy Nhon, Vietnam, June 12
after 13 days of working along side the people of Binh Dinh Province
to deliver a variety of humanitarian and civic assistance programs
ashore and on board USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).
"It is with mixed emotions that today I bring to a close Pacific
Partnership 2010's visit to Vietnam," said Pacific Partnership 2010
Mission Commander, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti, during the visit's
closing ceremony on the fleet landing pier.
The pier served as the gateway for participants, patients, medical
equipment and supplies and visitors traveling to and from Mercy.
"Watching Pacific Partnership develop from a simple vision discussed
at our initial planning meeting here in December (2009), to the
reality of seeing our collective teams in action the last 13 days
has been an amazing and incredibly rewarding experience for me and
for everyone involved," said Franchetti.
As a result of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health's sponsorship of
PP10, the residents of Binh Dinh Province, located on the central
coast of Vietnam, benefited greatly from the combined efforts of
more than 1,000 medical, dental, veterinary and engineering
professionals from numerous partner nations, non-governmental
organizations and U.S. military services.
Coinciding with the 15th year anniversary since the normalization of
relations between the two countries, this was Pacific Partnership's
third visit to Vietnam.
Medical civic action program (MEDCAP) sites treated more than 19,000
patients during the visit. Many MEDCAP sites, such as the Phuoc Hua
Junior High School, were temporarily transformed into a clinic for
the purpose of the program, receiving hundreds of patients each day
in search of general medicine, optometry, dental and pediatric care.
"The MEDCAP at Phuoc Hoa succeeded beyond my expectations both in
terms of numbers of patients seen and positive experiences for our
providers and their patients," said Cmdr. Peter Shumaker, Phuoc Hoa
MEDCAP officer-in-charge. "This success was a result of the
tremendous cooperation from our hosts and the vigorous efforts of
our entire team."
During the mission, MEDCAPs were held at two to three sites each day
resulting in a total of 30 clinics during the 13-day span. MEDCAP
engagements between providers and patients were not one-way
interactions. In fact, providers also benefited from the opportunity
to treat patients.
"Our patients were not the only beneficiaries of the medical care
provided at Phuoc Hoa," said Shumaker. "We learned a great deal from
the experience and gained a sense of pride at making a big
difference in the lives of some, and making a positive impression on
many more. We also gained a great deal of respect for the
hard-working people of the region."
In addition to MEDCAPs, medical professionals from Mercy engaged
with their Vietnamese counterparts for subject matter expert
exchanges, including sessions on retinal disease, interventional
cardiology and leprosy. Biomedical equipment technicians from Mercy
worked to return 35 pieces of medical equipment to service, with a
repair value in excess of $4.3 million.
From the engineering perspective, PP10 engineers arrived in Quy Nhon
20 days prior to Mercy's arrival and completed four separate
renovation projects during her stay: one clinic and one school for
disabled children in Quy Nhon and two clinics in the Tuy Phuoc
By the time PP10 departed Vietnam, almost 22,000 man-hours were
allocated to renovating all four renovation projects. The largest
project was the Hope Center, a school for special needs children
located in Quy Nhon.
As the centerpiece of the engineering portion of the visit, the Hope
Center saw Seabees from Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 11 and
Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, Australian Defense Force Army
engineers from the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and Vietnamese
volunteers. This enthusiastic team worked diligently in 100 degree
heat to replace the roof and ceilings, install ceiling fans, lights,
fixtures and outlets, install a solar water heater and create a
beautiful and functional new kitchen. Engineers also painted and
refitted railings on the second floor as a safety system for the
students, many of whom live on site.
"The opportunity for the Australian combat engineers to work with
both the US construction battalion and the Vietnamese was both
challenging and rewarding," said Commander, Australian National
Command Element, Lt. Col. Helen Murphy. "The Australians effectively
overcame language and cultural differences to harmoniously work
together to achieve the combined goals. It was wonderful to watch
the transformation of the building project that will now benefit the
local community for many years to come."
Community service program volunteers completed 17 different
engagements, including painting the Hope Center, paying visits to
children at local hospitals, painting a geriatric ward at the Binh
Dinh Leprosy Hospital and playing volleyball and soccer games with a
local team – losing both, but having fun doing so.
While PP10 was busy ashore, it was just as busy aboard Mercy, where
343 patients were seen and surgeons performed 132 surgical
procedures. From elective cataracts to acute trauma, Mercy surgeons,
nurses and technicians performed with full integration from partner
nation and non-governmental organization colleagues. This success
had its foundation in the hard work done in advance by the local
Vietnamese surgeons who presented Mercy's doctors with well-screened
patients who were excellent candidates for surgery.
"From previous Pacific Partnership mission experience and through a
great deal of coordination with the advanced team on the ground, the
demand was congruent with our menu of surgical services offered,"
said Mercy's Director for Surgical Services, Cmdr. Trent Douglas.
"Mercy was able to provide outstanding surgical care to our
Vietnamese patients, and we look forward to strengthening our
relationship in the future."
Mercy was joined in PP10 by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's
JDS Kunisaki (LST 4003) and her 30-person medical team and three
non-governmental organizations who assisted at the Nhon Binh and Hai
Cang MEDCAPs in Binh Dinh Province.
The PP10 team's visit included military and government personnel
from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom and
United States and civilian volunteers from East Meets West,
Latter-day Saint Charities, Project Hope, University of California,
San Diego Pre-Dental Society, Vets Without Borders and World Vets.
PP10 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet
humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening
regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, host
nations and international humanitarian and relief organizations.