CARTAGENA, Colombia –
CARTAGENA, Colombia -- U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) completed its third mission stop of Continuing Promise 2022 in Cartagena, Colombia, Nov. 20, 2022.
During the ship’s nine-day visit to Colombia, Continuing Promise assisted over 4,400 patients from Cartagena and surrounding communities. The team filled 7,012 prescriptions, conducted 304 laboratory tests, ran 235 x-rays and ultrasounds, and completed 83 surgeries. The Comfort team was comprised of U.S., Colombian, eight partner nations, South Carolina National Guard and non-governmental organization medical professionals and local volunteer translators.
“We are proud to be the back drop facilitating the deepening of the special relationship between the United States and Colombia,” said Cmdr. Bryan Carmichael, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4. “Continuing Promise is so much more than a medical mission, and our nine days in country have had a greater impact than the numbers suggest. As we look toward the next stop, we are thankful for the opportunities that have allowed mission members to make an impact.”
In addition to providing medical treatment, the Continuing Promise team collaborated with local government officials and non-governmental organizations to share knowledge on assorted specialties and support the needs of the community. Seven of the subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) during this mission stop involved tactical combat casualty control, veterinary services, biomedical equipment, and improving overall medical care.
The eighth SMEE was combined with a humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) event where aircrewmen and pilots assigned to the “Chargers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26 visited the Search and Rescue Swimmer School in Barranquilla to share their knowledge with the Colombian Navy.
In addition to SMEE and HADR events, members of the Comfort team collaborated with the Connected Warriors organization to hold a two-day Women, Peace and Security (WPS) seminar at the Juanfe Foundation in Cartagena. The event aimed to educate single mothers at the foundation on healthy relationships, preventative medical care, and the importance of maintaining their mental health. At the seminar, the team also provided optometry and dental care and held yoga classes to help the mothers decompress. Additionally, the team held two WPS symposiums to discuss the future of women’s involvement in governmental decision-making processes with high-ranking leaders from the U.S. and Colombia, including Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command.
The Continuing Promise team also participated in various community relations events, including supporting the embassy in refurbishing a school on the island of Tierra Bomba. Additionally, the U.S. Fleet Forces Band performed at a variety of local events, including a school in the Nelson Mandela neighborhood of Cartagena. The band also collaborated with Nicolas Tovar, a renowned Colombian singer and songwriter, in a concert celebrating the 200-year anniversary of U.S.-Colombian relations.
“The Comfort is what true partnership from a fellow democracy looks like, no strings attached, no fine print,” said Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “We do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it because this is our shared neighborhood, and we will work together to ensure a region that is secure, free, and prosperous. It is how Colombia and the United States help bring a little magic to the reality of the Colombian people: today, tomorrow, and always.”
Since the inauguration of Continuing Promise in 2007, Comfort medical teams have treated more than 484,000 patients, which comprises over 83% of the patients treated during all Continuing Promise missions, and conducted more than 7,400 surgeries, including over 800 surgeries during the 2010 earthquake relief mission in Haiti. Comfort’s current mission is the 12th Continuing Promise mission conducted in U.S. Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.
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