QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala (AFNS) —
The supplies and equipment bought with Overseas Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid funds are a large part of the impact the Health Engagements Assistance Response Team 2022 is making at the participating hospitals and on the patients in Guatemala and Honduras.
Class VIII, medical supplies, coming from Wilford Hall at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, had to be planned months in advance to be ordered, packaged, and delivered to the countries and hospitals for the mission. However, many items cannot be forecasted in advance.
Purchasing capability once on location is critical to mission success. As Lt. Col. (Dr.) Henry Foerster, lead dentist for HEART 22, explained, “you never know what you need until you arrive … contracting officers enable us to do our mission by acquiring equipment and replenishing supplies [onsite].”
For example, the two HEART 22 field ordering officers, U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Zinkl and Tech. Sgt. Caleb Marquez, acquired a portable X-ray. The portable X-ray was identified by the dental team as something that will bolster the capabilities of Hospital Escuela’s dental clinic in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, well beyond the time of the mission.
As field ordering officers, Zinkl and Marquez have integrated with the three HEART 22 medical teams (dental, ophthalmology and orthopedic) to help prioritize needs, find local vendors and procure supplies.
“Executing local surgical missions in Central America entirely depends on the successful implementation of contract services for mission success,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jacob Riis, orthopedic surgeon with HEART 22. “Utilizing local supply chains decreases cost, benefits host nation economy, bolsters partner relations, and ensures continued support for future surgical needs for affected patients. Our greatest impact during this entire deployment has been the ability to purchase surgical implants locally and provide them to local citizens who cannot afford these needed implants.”
In total, OHDACA funded $1.6 million in Class VIII, $100,000 in donations and $20,000 in local procurements during HEART 22. The multinational operation offers real-world benefits to U.S. and partner nation medical professionals and the people of Honduras and Guatemala by promoting well-being and a collective medical readiness.