Both Groups form up for a picture. Photo by Isaac Savitz

Both Groups form up for a picture. Photo by Isaac Savitz ()

Okinawa, Japan Thursday a delegation of Nurses led by CAPT Rodolfo (Rudy) Sanjuan and other staff from U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa(USNHO) visited a local Nursing School. Sanjuan spoke with Reiko Namizato, Director of Hokubu Nursing School, Noriaki Yonaha, Dean of Student Affairs, and other staff from The Hokubu Nursing School (HNS).

Moving to the new hospital location in 2013 and COVID, among other things, has seen a sharp decline in the interaction between the two organizations. The staff from the Hokubu Nursing School explained the comprehensive partnership and mutually beneficial relationship between USNHO and HNS that took place from 1998-2013.

During that time, the students would come to USNHO, shadow Navy Nurses, and practice their English, which counted towards an English credit. While at USNHO, the students enjoyed using U.S. dollars to purchase lunch and were encouraged to eat with a service member. Fifty-one students were sent to the exchange program at USNHO from 2005-2013.

The students were surprised by how big the hospital beds were and substantially improved their English language mastery in the four weeks they spent there. After the second week, students were allowed to invite their parents to have lunch, which was also attended by USNHO personnel.

Other collaborations in the past included a doctor from USNHO going to HNS to teach intubation. Navy Leadership was also invited to attend the graduations of the nursing students. Today, as we walked around the beautiful campus, spoke to students, watched them study for exams, and examined their training aids, it was evident that we needed to rekindle this relationship.

The complex relationship around medical care between our host nation, Japan, and the U.S. appears to play out in the highest echelons of military and government leaders. Yet the truth is, it is the relationships of the people, different nations, genders, civilians, and military coming together, laughing, and sharing stories that form the bonds. As the USNHO staff exchanged gifts and shared stories everyone left the meeting with a sense of purpose and direction.

The U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Okinawa (USNMRTCO) supports the Defense Health Agency's U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa (USNHO) as the largest OCONUS Navy Medicine medical treatment facility and stands t ready to respond to contingency operations to support the INDOPACOM region. It is a critical regional asset for direct care delivery, regional referrals, and medical contingency operations. The staff of USNHO understands their vital role as pre-positioned, forward-deployed naval forces within the first island chain, aligned and in support of the joint military commands and operations.

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