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179th Medical Group members partner with Serbians for Medical Knowledge Exchange

  • Published
  • By Story by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Harwood
  • 179th Airlift Wing

Medical professionals from Serbia have been teaming up with the Ohio Air National Guard as part of a Serbian and U.S. Medical Knowledge Exchange Team.

The National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) links U.S. states with a partner country for the purpose of improving bilateral relations with the United States. The program's goals reflect an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard, to promote regional stability and civil-military relationships in support of U.S. policy objectives.

The state partners actively participate in a host of security cooperation activities ranging from bilateral familiarization and training-like events, to exercises, fellowship-style internships and civic leader visits. All activities are coordinated through the Theater Combatant Commanders, the US Ambassadors' country teams and other agencies as appropriate, to ensure that National Guard support is tailored to meet both U.S. and country objectives.

The Ohio National Guard has two state partners.  Since 1993, the Ohio National Guard has partnered with Hungary, and in September of 2006, the Ohio National Guard entered into a new partnership with the Republic of Serbia.

The concept of the Medical Knowledge Exchange (MKX) Team started with the Concept Development Conference (CDC) and the Joint Committee (JC) Conference that was held at the Military Medical Academy (MMA) in Belgrade, Serbia from 25-27 September 2018.

Goals were outlined at the JC and CDC:

One of the goals being to promote and develop cooperation in the fields of clinical research and patient care delivery, promote information exchanges, training, and capacity building.

Another to establish a collaboration in research to include epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis, screening, treatment and control.

Finally, they wish to promote increased collaboration between appropriate Military Medical Centers and Institutions in both countries, as well as to develop an assessment and application of new and cost effective diagnostic technologies for public health benefits.

After meeting in Belgrade, the Ohio National Guard invited the Serbians to come to the U.S. and tour the facilities, as well as meet some of our Ohio National Guard Medical professionals who also work with many prestigious civilian medical facilities.

The MKX Conference was held at sites around Ohio and Washington, DC. Participants visited the sites of The Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, and University Hospitals (UH), Cleveland, Ohio, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, from 26 Oct-02 Nov 2019.

Lt. Col. Brandy Piacentino, Ohio Air National Guard SPP Medical Planner Representative, said “The goals of the MKX were to build upon our knowledge base and observe other civilian and military hospitals, provide sharing of information and capacity building for Serbian MMA members, focus on infectious disease planning, prevention, and treatment and continue to build upon strong and existing partnership with Ohio and Serbia.”

Six members of the Ohio National Guard met with three Serbian Military Medical Participants:
1. Lt. Col. Brandy Piacentino – Ohio Air National Guard / SPP Medical Planner Representative
2. Lt. Col. Tim Grady – Ohio National Guard SPP Director
3. Lt. Col. Fred Marquinez, MD – Ohio Air National Guard Flight Surgeon (Oncologist) – University Hospital
4. Lt. Col. Gregory Applegate, DO – Ohio Air National Guard Medical Provider (Anesthesiologist) –University Hospital
5. Lt. Col. Peter Lee, MD – Ohio Air National Guard Flight Surgeon (Cardiothoracic Surgeon) /
Research Specialist – Ohio State University
6. Capt. Soluman Culver, MD – Ohio Army National Guard (Internal Med) / Research Specialist–Ohio State University

The Serbian Military Medical Participants:
1. Lt. Col. Branko Kosevic, MD Urologist
2. Mr. Sasa Jovic, MD Maxillofacial Surgeon
3. Lt. Col. Zoran Radomirovic

Piacentino said, “The MKX Conference was extremely effective in further advancing collaboration on infectious disease research, prevention, and control. All participants were excited with the progress and direction for this State Partnership Program Joint Committee.”

The MKX team hopes to continue building their partnership and research together, while they are currently working to schedule another event in 2020