HINCHE, Haiti -- They have come from all over Hinche, villagers from elderly men to mothers carrying crying infants, lining up by the simple stone building that is the village clinic.
The throng of hundreds waits outside in the pouring rain, eyes set on the hospital building where Multinational Interim Force-Haiti personnel work busily. They wait to be seen by village and MIFH doctors and to receive free medication.
Inside the unlit, rudimentary hospital, the MIFH medical personnel and their translators attend to the needs of the residents of Hinche. A Chilean doctor, an American military physician, and a local village medic work side-by-side to administer care to the populace.
“We are so grateful for the help you have brought us. You’ve helped the community out so much, because they have no money to afford healthcare otherwise.”
These were the words of Segundino Ortega, a doctor at the Sante Therrese hospital here, as he referred to the Medical Civic Action Program conducted by MIFH personnel June 19.
United States forces supplied medication and personnel to aid the Chilean forces in providing health care to the populace. Two Army civil affairs specialists, three medical personnel with Camp Lejeune-based Charlie Surgical Company, and MIFH translators worked alongside Chilean medical staff to treat 476 patients.
They worked as a team to treat 270 children in the pediatrics clinic and 206 adults in general medicine, said Army Capt. Kevin K. Corrica, MIFH civil affairs officer.
“We’ve always worked great together in every MEDCAP (MIFH) has conducted,” he continued. “In this instance, we provided the Chileans with logistical support via transportation by helicopter to Hinche, and they provided security, medical personnel and supplies.”
Chilean Capt. Carlos Ruiz, a Civil Military Operations Center official, agreed with Corrica.
“The Chilean forces executed this particular MEDCAP, but we worked alongside the U.S. every step of the way, from planning the operation to treating the actual patients,” the civil affairs officer stated.
United States Southern Command supported the Chilean-led MEDCAP by providing about $10,000 worth of medication, and U.S. forces supplied food and water for all the troops on the ground.
“Even though we helped Chile out with logistical support and some personnel, this was very much a Chilean-led operation,” Corrica stated. “They provided security for the location and brought additional supplies for the people of Hinche as well.”
In addition to the U.S. supplies, the Chilean forces provided 200 cartons each of milk and juice and about 50 toys to distribute to the children while they stood in line waiting to be seen. The forces provided the adults water while they waited.
According to Ruiz, Chilean personnel also distributed pamphlets to educate the patients about proper sanitation and waste disposal procedures to help prevent future sickness.
The MIFH also took this opportunity to share with UN stabilization force personnel how MEDCAPs were being conducted in an attempt to provide for a smooth turnover of operations. The MIFH will transfer responsibility for operations in Haiti to the UN force on June 25.
“Our forces walked through the compound with a Paraguayan colonel to show him how we conduct our MEDCAPs,” Ruiz explained. “Paraguay is one nation that will help with peacekeeping operations in Haiti in the future. We hope they can learn from our experience and use that knowledge to help the Haitian people.”
While MIFH remains in country with its Chilean forces in Hinche, Ruiz said his people will continue working with the U.S to help the community.
“It’s been great working with the MIFH and our (U.S.) allies,” he stated. “I can say that one of the best things about these MEDCAPs is how the MIFH pulls its resources together and works toward a common goal.”