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NEWS | June 24, 2016

US Soldiers share skills, expertise during medical exercise in Gabon

By Courtesy Story U.S. Army Africa

LIBREVILLE, Gabon - “Charlotte! Charlotte!” called the Gabonese doctor.

“Oui, madam!” said Spc. Charlotte McGuckin, a health care specialist with the 212th Combat Support Hospital, as she responds in French to Gabonese Commandant Igoho Christel-Iris.

McGuckin and 11 other Soldiers from 212th CSH, out of Germany, and four support Soldiers from the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support), partnered with Gabonese medical counterparts at the Hopital D’Instruction Des Armees in Libreville, Gabon, during a medical readiness training exercise from May 22 to June 10.

“I didn’t expect to translate,” said McGuckin. “A lot of what’s happened is they’ll explain the procedures in French, the American doctor will explain and American nurse will explain the procedure to me and I’ll try to explain between the two what their suggestions are.”

“Charlotte, she’s not a doctor, but she saw how we work here and how we treat patients,” said Igoho.

Gabonese pharmacist, Commandant Inguelessani Elsa, echoed the similar thoughts about American pharmacy technician, Sgt. Travis Houskeeper, who worked in her department for the three weeks.  “What we taught is that in the field hospital they don’t have the whole process for requesting medicine, but here we supply the medicine.”

“The biggest experience from this cooperation is that [Elsa] taught us how to process the information,” said Houskeeper of Inguelessani.

The 212th CSH personnel worked in various capacities throughout the hospital, to include the operating room, intensive care unit, pharmacy and emergency room.

“I was able to work alongside with the nurses and get to do inter-professional collaboration with their nurses and doctors, and see how they manage care with their patients,” said Maj. Kenneatta Jasper, an intensive care nurse with 212th CSH.

Jasper worked in the neonatal intensive care unit where she provided infant care with regards to feeding and refilling of medication.  Jasper showed local nurses how to burp infants while feeding them to prevent discomfort caused by a buildup of air in their stomachs.

The U.S. team included operating room and anesthesia nurses, an operating room technician, general and orthopedic surgeons.  Each assisted in a number of surgeries as well as leading a few surgeries themselves.

 “I’ve scrubbed twice with the spine surgeon, once was a lower back case,” said Sgt. Nicholas Bankston operating room technician.  “He has not had a tech since he’s been here.  Having a tech is a great asset to him. It makes the cases go smoother and faster.”

The exercise is a partnership between Gabon and the U.S. to build interoperability between both forces and an opportunity to build capacity.  The exercise is mutually beneficial for both Gabonese and U.S. Army medical professionals by fostering cooperation while conducting medical specific tasks.

“Overall, I have had a good time.  It’s been fun and a great learning experience,” said Bankston.  “I look forward to doing another MEDRETE.”