Pacific Angel-Philippines team treats nearly 7,000 patients

U.S. Air Force Maj. Aaron Fields and a volunteer nurse treat a patient in the primary clinic during an Operation Pacific Angel- Philippines mission at Tanjay, Philippines, on March 6. The medical teams treated hundreds of patients each day. Fields is a physician from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. J.C. Woodring

U.S. Air Force Maj. Aaron Fields and a volunteer nurse treat a patient in the primary clinic during an Operation Pacific Angel- Philippines mission at Tanjay, Philippines, on March 6. The medical teams treated hundreds of patients each day. Fields is a physician from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. J.C. Woodring

Story and photo by Senior Master Sgt. J.C. Woodring

Operation Pacific Angel-Philippines Public Affairs

DUMAGUETE, Philippines – The Operation Pacific Angel-Philippines medical mission officially ended here March 9 with 6,885 patients treated at two medical sites nearby, far exceeding the projected 4,500 mark.

Hundreds of patients waited outside a sports and cultural center in Dumaguete seeking treatment on the final day of the mission. Providers in optometry, dental, primary care and physical therapy sections worked throughout the day to see as many as possible.

Throughout the mission, the medical team handed out 2,741 pairs of glasses, filled 13,694 prescriptions and pulled 1,528 teeth.

“We took quick lunch breaks while ensuring that the care con-

tinued,” said Maj. Chad Simpson, an optometrist from Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Most of the optometry patients were treated with simple reading glasses.

“It’s only when they reach their 40s and begin having problems reading their Bibles that they notice they don’t see as well as they used to,” Simpson said. “Reading glasses drastically improve their world.”

Patients seeking dental care are generally looking to get teeth pulled.

“In the states, we try everything possible to save the tooth,” said Capt. Cherie Gabriel, a dentist from Yokota Air Base, Japan. “Here, it is much more expensive to get a filling or root canal than it is to get a prosthetic. They just want to get their teeth pulled.”

The primary care doctors saw hundreds of patients every day.

“I’ve wanted to go on a mission like this for a long time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Maj. Steven Indra, a physician from the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

“They are so appreciative for fairly minor treatment-things like vitamins and aspirin.”

Besides treating the patients on the scene, the doctors also gave them referrals for follow-up care with local doctors.

“There is only so much we can do on the site,” Indra said. “Some people need lab work or other testing that we didn’t have the capability to do.”

Operation Pacific Angel is a U.S. Pacific Command (headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii) humanitarian mission that sends primary care, dental, optometry and civil engineer experts to different countries each year to partner with their militaries and other non-governmental organizations. This marks the sixth year of the operation, and Pacific Angel-Philippines is the first trip of the year.

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