Ambassador Bernstein remarks on Ventilators and Field Hospital donation

Ambassador Robin S. Bernstein 
Donation Ceremony
Friday, September 4, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

Honorable Vice President Peña
Honorable Health Minister, Dr. Plutarco Arias,
Honorable Defense Minister, Lieutenant General Carlos Luciano Diaz Morfa,
Honorable Director of the Center for Emergency Operations, Retired Major General Juan Manuel Mendez,
Distinguished guests,
Distinguished members of the press,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon 

I feel very honored to be with you today to present the Dominican Government, the National Health Service and the Center for Emergency Operations the donation of fifty (50) mechanic ventilators and two (2) field hospitals, which reflect our enduring promise of friendship, cooperation and solidarity with the Dominican Republic.  

Today, the world is facing one of the most significant global health crises in recent memory. The United States, under President Trump’s leadership, is again acting boldly and demonstrating clear and decisive stewardship to support health systems, provide humanitarian assistance, and improve economic security and stabilization efforts worldwide. The United States will continue to lead the global fight against COVID-19, even as we battle it on the home front.

The United States has been the most generous nation in the world since the outbreak of COVID-19. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department, alone have committed nearly $1.5 billion toward COVID-19 life-saving assistance to more than 120 countries, including $3.7 million for the Dominican Republic.

As you all have heard me say many times, my priorities in this country have focused on security, investment and trade, disaster preparedness and education, which I have coined as “SIDE”. We are committed to increasing regional collaboration and partner nation capacity to provide medical assistance and disaster preparedness and relief – a high priority for the region as recently demonstrated by the disastrous effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

There are many ways that the U.S. Embassy, and U.S. Southern Command are strengthening partnerships to address these shared threats. For example, through the Southern Command, our cooperation includes humanitarian assistance donations like these two field hospitals, and the multiple personal protective equipment donations to the COE and 911 for response in Santo Domingo, Santiago, San Cristobal, La Altagracia and others. It also includes multinational exercises, such as last year’s Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias (FAHUM), training and education, and the employment of the full range of U.S. military and other government agencies’ humanitarian assistance capabilities to work with our partners to respond to natural disasters and medical emergencies.

These two field hospitals, with 40 beds and 4 ventilators capacity each, valued at $950,000 total, increase the Dominican Government’s ability to rapidly deploy medical staff and equipment, to care for those in need of assistance during disaster relief operations or a health crisis. With the ever-relentless COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, these mobile hospitals will also provide the Dominican government with increased capacity for response. In the absence of real-world medical emergencies, these hospitals could be used to train medical staff throughout the country while providing medical assistance to remote communities.

The USAID donation of 50 ventilators have already been given to the Servicio Nacional de Salud and we thank Dr. Mario Lama and his team for getting the ventilators out to the hospitals and put to use immediately. They are being distributed among thirteen hospitals in ten provinces in the Dominican Republic. In addition to the ventilators, USAID will provide technical assistance to train staff in hospitals on Intensive Care Management and on how to safely operate the mechanical ventilators. 

These donations are a testimony of the generosity of the American people, the innovation of the American private industry and most importantly the commitment of the American people to the people of the Dominican Republic and to our shared responsibility to make our countries and the region stronger.

I want to thank everyone who has made this humanitarian assistance donation possible. The United States has always been and will always be a bold and compassionate country. When countries face crises, the United States responds with help and support. We are together in this long-term battle, because that is what we do and who we are as Americans. 

In short, America acts. We always have, we always will. Estamos Unidos!