PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Navy is trying something new to better respond to traumas on the battlefield and at home.

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is partnering with VCU Medical Center and Hospital Escuela in Honduras to share experiences and build bonds, with the goal of providing better outcomes for patients.

“So they’re all training and learning together and being able to share that experience and
it builds that bonding, so when they are down range they have that camaraderie,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Linda Smith, commanding officer of Expeditionary Medical Facility Juliet.

Training in Honduras is quite different then at home. There are language barriers and limited resources.

“These are missions that are unique because we can’t replicate this environment in a simulated space,” said U.S. Navy LCDR Matthew Haldeman, an anesthesiologist who recently worked in the Honduran hospital.

The environments these healthcare workers are experiencing during training open their eyes to what they may encounter on the battlefield or in a disaster at home.

“In the future, I’ll be able to assist the surgeons because I’ll know what they need and how I can best assist them,” said U.S. Navy LT, Perioperative Nurse Katie Adams.

In their partnership with VCU, nurses are learning to better care for burn patients at the region’s only Level I burn trauma center.

“They understand what it feels like to witness severe burns or trauma to the human body,” Smith said. “It’s not an easy thing, no matter how much you’ve seen it.”

Fires and burns are one of the most common combat related injuries.

“And not having that shock factor when you see that burn or trauma patient, it also adds a lot of peace to the patient,” Smith said.

The partnership with VCU started with a group of 10 nurses. The plan is to expand to medical corpsmen next.

The Navy is also working to expand missions that will focus on urology.

Overall, Smith hopes to expand these partnerships as a way to strengthen readiness to deploy, and to bring better care to those they’ll serve on future battle fields and in hospitals at home.