Landstuhl Regional Medical Center team leads medical readiness exercise in Ghana

by Kirk Frady
Medical Readiness Command, Europe
U.S. Army Soldiers team with Ghana Armed Forces to conduct an irrigation and debridement of a patient’s hip during a medical readiness exercise at 37th Military Hospital, Accra, Ghana, May 17. MEDREX is a program held in Ghana, in conjunction with African Lion 2024, planned and executed by U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, that allows military health professionals from the U.S. and their African partners to exchange medical practices, procedures and techniques that build and strengthen treatment capabilities, resulting in lasting relationships between the partners. (Photo by Sgt. Kylejian Francia)

A 25-member team composed of U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force medical, veterinary, and dental personnel from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Dental Health Activity-Rheinland Pfalz, Public Health Command Europe, the USAF 86th Medical Squadron, and the North Dakota National Guard, participated in a three-week medical readiness exercise, or MEDREX, together with members of the Ghana Armed Forces, May 12-31, at the 37th Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana.

“As the only Role 4 military medical facility supporting three combatant commands, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center team was proud to lead a very successful engagement in the AFRICOM AOR with our Ghanaian partners of the 37th Military Hospital,” said Col. (Dr.) Ted Brown, commander of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “Just as important as the tremendous benefits gained by both the U.S. and Ghanaian medical teams, the relationships established and the partnerships forged will pay dividends for both the 37th and LRMC, and our respective medical systems, in the years to come.”

U.S. Army Col. (Dr.) Claude Burnett, director of Global Health Engagements and Clinical Readiness for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, together with USAF Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mary Stuever, director of trauma for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Sgt. 1st Class Teresa Bocanegra, the medical readiness exercise non-commissioned officer-in-charge, coordinated and led the 25-member U.S. medical team throughout the three-week hands-on medical exercise.

“Participating in the planning and execution of MEDREX-24 was deeply gratifying and meaningful to me,” said Burnett. “Witnessing, firsthand, the culmination of a yearslong planning by a multinational team to deliver medical care to the Accra community, while enhancing medical readiness and advancing the relationship between two partnering militaries, was extremely rewarding. It really makes you feel like part of something larger than just your medical specialty or area of expertise.”

According to senior Army medical officials, the multinational team collaborated and shared best medical practices while delivering care to patients in the local Accra community. Their medical services encompassed a broad spectrum, including general surgery, anesthesiology, operating room procedures, OB/GYN, emergency room services and bio-engineering equipment repair. Also included in the treatment provided by the U.S. military medical team were OB/GYN services led by Lt. Col. Ciara Rakestraw, LRMC assistant deputy chief of clinical services, as well as a variety of routine and emergency dental procedures.

“Our dental team conducted 252 direct patient encounters in the dental clinic and 78 procedures by our oral and maxillofacial surgery team,” said Maj. Ryan Allred, officer-in-charge of the Landstuhl Specialty Dental Clinic. “Working with them side-by-side in the dental clinic, we were able to build strong bonds with our Ghanaian counterparts. I’m very thankful and honored for the opportunity to have been part of this MEDREX.”

This marks the first year that veterinary services were part of the MEDREX program. According to exercise participants, the inclusion of veterinary capabilities underscores the commitment to expanding the scope of support and addressing the overall health needs of the communities they serve.

“Our Army veterinary team provided medical care and treatment to Ghanaian military working dogs as well as family pets, including dogs and cats,” said Army Cpt. Javier Pino, an Army veterinarian assigned to Veterinary Readiness Activity Rheinland-Pfalz. “All together, we treated a total of 62 animals. Being part of this MEDREX was an amazing opportunity. It allowed us to work alongside amazing soldiers from another nation and to be able to learn and exchange knowledge with them.”

Over the course of the three-week exercise, the U.S. military medical team provided care to more than 950 patients for a variety of medical issues, with the focus on trauma/surgical care, dental care, veterinary medicine, and women’s (OB/GYN) healthcare.

“During the MEDREX, our team completed 5 trauma, 7 general surgery,

18 oral and maxillofacial, 120 dental and 15 OB/GYN surgeries/procedures,” added Burnett. “Overall, our team treated approximately 950 patients. There was a wide variety of cases seen, including trauma, general surgery, dental (including oral maxillofacial surgery), internal medicine, OB/GYN, critical care (ICU), emergency room, anesthesia, wound care, etc. Additionally, our Army veterinary team completed more than 60 procedures involving military working dogs, family pets and farm animals.”

U.S. Army Capt. Rebecca Taft, a critical care nurse assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, assists Dr. Amara Norah, a Ghanaian nurse, to dress a patient’s wounds at 37th Military Hospital, during a medical readiness exercise in Accra, Ghana, May 21.
(Photo by Cpl. Clara Soria-Hernandez)