LEGAZPI, Philippines (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) visited Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) June 30, for a pharmacy and blood banking subject matter expert exchange (SMEE).
During the two-day SMEE, Sailors worked side-by-side with local Filipino doctors, medical technicians, physicians and pharmacists to learn how each other operate and help one another.
BRTTH staff began the SMEE with a presentation of their blood banking service capability. The hospital's mission is to be the premier blood bank in the province of Albay, and hospital staff took advantage of the exchange to discuss their upcoming transition to include expanding their pharmacy services.
"The BRTTH pharmacy is going to be moving into a new space soon and they're interested in initiating clinical pharmacy services to expand the delivery of care in the hospital," said Cmdr. Bruce Thompson, the pharmacy department head aboard Mercy.
To assist in expanding care, Sailors traded information about implementation of clinical pharmacy, antimicrobial stewardship and pathology services.
"We stood side-by-side and learned what they do, how they intake patients, the type of medications they dispense and different techniques they use," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Charles Nugent.
While touring the hospital, Sailors and local health professionals learned from one another by discussing shared daily experiences, routines and medical challenges.
"It went great," said Thompson. "Everyone was very friendly, receptive and eager to learn and we had some great discussions. They're our colleagues who just happen to be practicing in another country."
The second day of the SMEE BRTTH medical personnel came aboard Mercy to further discuss pharmacy and blood banking techniques and to tour the ship.
"This is the first time I'm able to see a really big ship, and one that has medical supplies and machines," said Dr. Madeline Rañola, a pathologist at BRTTH. "It's amazing."
BRTTH employees worked alongside Sailors to learn firsthand the ship's process for compatibility testing and antibody identification. Sailors also discussed sterile compounding, pharmacy practices in the U.S., pharmacy automation and technology.
"Everything went great; we now have the basics and some guidelines we can follow and that's going to help us setting up the pharmacy," said Janelle Morga, a pharmacist for BRTTH. "We'd love to have Pacific Partnership back!"
This year marks the seventh time Pacific Partnership has visited the Philippines since the mission began in 2006. Following the mission stop in Legazpi, Pacific Partnership 2016 will continue on to Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
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For more news from Pacific Partnership 2016, visit http://www.facebook.com/pacificpartnership and @PacificPartner.
For more news from Commander, Task Force 73, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/ctf73/.