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Colombian Nurse Makes Impact on Humanitarian Mission

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Emmitt Hawks, Continuing Promise 2008 Public Affairs

Cienaga, Colombia – During the Continuing Promise (CP) 2008 humanitarian/civic assistance (HCA) mission in Colombia, Aug. 27- Sept. 9, joint-military and multi-national medical personnel embarked aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) have the opportunity to work along side host nation medical staff. 

At the Candelaria Medical Clinic, the CP team has quickly come to realize how vital one special host nation nurse is to the success of the mission.

Lead registered nurse and military liaison, Edna Pereria, works quickly and efficiently.  Within 15 minutes, she has completed three patient consultations and vaccinated an infant. 

When the CP team leaders arrive for work at the clinic, they seek out Pereria to begin coordinating patient care.

“She really is the glue that holds us together,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kathaleen Sikes.  “She knows the health care system.  When we refer patients out, she ensures patients understand procedures and know where to go and receive proper care. She is a great nurse.” 

As grateful as the CP team is to Pereria, she is just as grateful to those involved in the humanitarian aid to her country and, especially, her community.

“It has been a wonderful experience working with Continuing Promise,” said Pereira. “The hospitals are not able to cover the total population with health care, give medicine, and perform surgeries.”

Pereira has been a registered nurse for six years and employed at Candelaria for more than a year. She is the lead nurse over 14 staff nurses and the hospital normally sees 250 patients daily.

“She has a really big heart and helps everybody,” said Heyleen Diaz, a security officer for the hospital.  “She has a caring hand. She is married with two children and hundreds of people who depend on her. We are proud she is a member of our community.”

CP will provide support by conducting medical, dental and engineering assistance programs ashore in response to host nation requests and requirements. The mission’s goal is to improve health, prolong life, promote training, and enhance prosperity in the region.

Kearsarge's mission exemplifies the United States maritime strategy which emphasizes deploying forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.

The CP Caribbean Phase is the second of two HCA deployments to the Southern Command area of focus for 2008. The first CP deployment was conducted by USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Pacific.

For more news on Continuing Promise, visit U.S. Southern Command’s Web site at www.southcom.mil.