MAUBARA, Timor Leste --
Navy corpsmen and doctors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit saw their 500th patient Oct. 19 at a clinic here.
The medical team, consisting of 14 corpsmen and four doctors, has been treating patients since arriving in the Southeast Asian nation Oct.
Most of the patients were treated at a local clinic ran by Catholic nuns and others were treated at a hospital in the enclave district of Oecussi.
“Typically we have been seeing more than 100 people a day, and we are trying to accommodate everyone that comes in,” said Chief Petty Officer Norman Delacruz, an independent duty corpsman with the MEU, and an Oceanside, Calif., native.
Delacruz said the most common cases have been treating the elderly and those with coughs, many of which have been referred to the government tuberculosis program.
One man came to the clinic complaining of a cough he had for seven years.
"Most of the patients we’ve seen haven't seen a doctor in more than 10 years," said Delacruz, a 12-year Navy veteran.
Seaman Nelson Calderon, a hospital corpsman and Los Angeles native, said he has seen a large number of children with malnutrition and people with tuberculosis symptoms.
“It’s sad,” said the 20-year-old. “The babies here are so small for their age.”
Delacruz said the workload has been heavy, but the staff has been up to the challenge.
"They are working through lunch trying to see as many patients as possible," he said.
The unit has one more clinic scheduled in another Timor Leste location before it will board USS Bonhomme Richard and continue its Western Pacific deployment.
Many of the corpsmen said they will miss the work they’re doing and the people they’re treating.
“It's the greatest thing ever being out here," said Calderon. “This is the best time I've had in the Navy.”