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June 21, 2008

Iraqi girl to get life-saving surgery

Filed under: CentCom, ME, medics, ota, otb — Rosemary Welch @ 12:39 am

by SFC Stacy Niles
214th Fires Brigade

FOB DELTA, Iraq (June 19, 2008) – When she was born, doctors didn’t expect her to live a week, but a 1-year-old Iraqi girl is defying the odds. She overcame the initial diagnosis, but without proper care, Noor Majeed could still die. Fortunately, surgeons in Boston have agreed to donate their services to help her, and a donor in Cambridge, Mass., donated $100,000 for the medical care of this patient. Noor’s surgery is scheduled for June 30 at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Noor was born with bladder exstrophy, which is a rare congenital disease in which the bladder protrudes outside of the abdominal wall. It occurs once in every 30,000 – 50,000 births, most often in boys. Separation of the pelvic bones also accompanies the condition, which is often associated with other birth defects. Surgery to repair bladder exstrophy is usually performed within the first 48 hours after birth.

The care required to correct bladder exstrophy is unavailable in Iraq. In addition to surgery to repair the bladder, Noor will also require orthopedic surgery on her pelvis and hips as well as reconstruction and corrective procedures, said Capt. Michael Mullaly, an operating room nurse with the 912th Forward Surgical Team. Mullaly was attached to the 948th FST as an operating room nurse when Noor began treatment in the FOB Delta medical facility.

“When Noor was born…and when I saw her condition…I wished to die,” said Zainab Najy, Noor’s mother. I felt hopeless and helpless…and because of the lack of adequate care that can treat her and because of our financial situation, we could not afford to help her. I was expecting her to die at any moment; I even told my mother that I don’t want to get attached to her, because I thought she would die soon. But as days go by, Noor resisted…and stayed alive. I was hurt all the time as I watch other children walking and playing…but Noor can’t even sit or walk. My life became filled with depression, sadness and pain,” said Najy.

“I was so sad and depressed, but now, I am happy because I feel that Noor will live and all this made possible by the American people…and the American troops and the medical staff who helped us save Noor’s life,” she added. “My feeling was desperate, for a father who sees his daughter suffering…and we could not help her. The Iraqi doctors could not help her, that’s why we came (to Army doctors),” said Neseer M. Jemeel, Noor’s father.

“I was so happy when I heard my daughter will be treated…because I had lost hope completely…but I am so happy now. I feel safe because (the Americans) are caring. They care about children, mothers; they know life is valuable, and they are true human beings.”

When Noor and her mother arrive in Boston, they will be greeted by a friendly face – Mullaly, an operating room nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worchester, Mass., plans to meet them when they land. “It can be overwhelming,” said Mullaly of traveling to a new country where you know no one and don’t speak the language. “I think a familiar face would make it easier.”

Mullaly has seen Noor on five occasions. “I’m pretty vested in this case. I’m attached to this baby,” said Mullaly. Doctors from the 948th Forward Surgical Team first saw Noor in February. Without treatment, Noor’s ailments could be catastrophic. Both conditions are rare in the U.S., and the causes for both are unknown, said Lt. Col. Paul Brisson, general and pediatric surgeon with the 948th FST.

Noor Majeed at the Forward Operating Delta medical facility where she received several life-saving procedures. She will undergo reconstructive surgery in Boston, June 30, 2008.

Source: CENTCOM.

Editors Note: This is a very precious and moving article to me. I ask all of you to join me in prayer for this child to have a successful operation and long, healthy life. God bless the children. Amen.

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Outside The Beltway: Public Financing RIP, Democrat=Socialist: News & Opinion Roundup (20 June 2008) Mazel TOV Edition, and Right Voices: Obama Wants You To Know That His Mom Is White And He Loves America, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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5. W. third world county (W, F): The Great Seal of Obamaland.
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June 4, 2008

Wednesday Hero: Sgt. Crystal C. Johnson

Filed under: bombs, defenselink, Heroes, medics, otb, Women — Rosemary Welch @ 8:35 pm

Today’s Wednesday Hero is a young lady whose life was changed forever on that September 12, 2006, night in Iraq. Her convoy of 17, she was driving in the lead, was somewhere in the quiet of an Iraqi night. Suddenly they were under ambush in all directions, and her truck took the brunt of an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) – the most dangerous kind of improvised explosive device.

After realizing her Commanding Officer, Lt. Emily Perez, was killed in the blast, she realized it was up to her to take charge. She quickly turned to the gunner who had first pulled her from the truck, Specialist Truesdell, to rescue their translator from inside the Humvee. Shortly after they rescued him through the flames, the ammunition caught fire and started firing in every which direction.

She started applying life-saving first aid on this man, and when back-up came, she continued her work. When the back-up did arrive, then Corporal Johnson refused medical attention until everyone else attended to, and she also helped in this area. She had received shrapnel and burns from the VFP.

While they were out there alone, Specialist Truesdell stood fighting the terrorists that were still threatening them. They had only one gun, and as you know, the other ammo had already gone off in the fire.

This was a turning point for then-Colornal Johnson. She discovered something deep within her. She had found her calling. She extended her deployment to become to a full fledged Army Medic! For her actions that day, she earned a Purple Heart and the Army’s Commendation Medal with “V”.

I thank God everyday for special people such as Sgt. Crystal C. Johnson. What an Honor it is to have people like her in our midst.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero
.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Here is some more information:

Hometown: Glendale, CA
Awarded: Army Commendation Medal
External Links: Sgt. Crystal Johnson – Remembers Lt. Emily Perez.
Download this hero’s story: Right click and “Save Target As…” to download.

You may also hear her interview on The Martha Zoller Show.

Posts I’ve trackposted to at Linkfest and other sites:

The Amboy Times: Barak Obama Sr: “Problems Facing Our Socialism”.
third world county: A Primer on Global Warming.
Dumb Ox Daily News: She’s Not Go-o-o-one Yet!
Adam’s Blog: Karate Kid Quote For Wednesday.
Right Voices: Is It The Democratic Delegates Or The Battleground States That Win General Elections.
Thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
Tel-Chai Nation: Obama’s payroll includes Nation of Islam members.

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May 2, 2008

Cuscatlan Battalion delivers wheelchairs, gives hope

Filed under: CentCom, children, ME, medics, people, supplies — Rosemary Welch @ 2:52 pm

by SFC Stacy Niles
214th Fire Brigade PAO

FOB DELTA, Iraq (April 24, 2008) – The El Salvador Cuscatlán Battalion X rotation distributed 125 wheelchairs to disabled children and adults at the al-Rhama Disabled Association in al-Kut, Iraq, April 18. “I was shocked by the large number of children,” said Col. Walter Arévalo, commander of the Cuscatlán Battalion. Many of the wheelchair recipients suffer from conditions such as epilepsy, heart disease, migraines and eye and skin disorders, said Arévalo.

Hussein Kase, a 12-year-old who received a wheelchair, is mute and suffers from a skin condition in addition to being paralyzed. The chair will give him mobility, said his father Kas Salaman. “I’m very happy about this gift,” Salaman said. “It will help him move and be able to play with the other children.”

More resources are needed to increase the quality of life for these individuals, said Arévalo. People had traveled from as far away as Basra, he said, to receive assistance. “It is important for us to run this type of activity,” Arévalo said. “We like to be able to give hope to the people.”

In addition to the wheelchairs, the Salvadoran soldiers distributed 125 packets of food and school supply kits.

Salvadoran Soldiers from the Cuscatlán Battalion X rotation distributed 125 wheelchairs, food packets and school supply kits at the al-Rhama Disabled Association in al-Kut, April 18.

Source: CENTCOM.

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Iraqi lieutenant gets prosthetic limb

Filed under: bombs, CentCom, CF, civil affairs, ME, medics — Rosemary Welch @ 1:58 pm

by Tami Hillis
4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

FOB KALSU, Iraq (April 25, 2008) – At about 12:46 p.m., Jan. 10, everything changed for one Iraqi Army special forces platoon leader. While on a joint mission with coalition forces, the 8th IA Division Soldier was struck by an improvised explosive device as he crossed a pedestrian footbridge on the east side of Route Minnesota in the Chaka Four Region. First Lt. Mohy Ali lost his right foot and sustained trauma to his right wrist in the attack.

A little more than three months later, Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, are helping the 42-year-old soldier get his life back to normal, one step at a time. Capt. Jacob Turnquist, the 4th BCT surgeon, identified a clinic near the Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, where Mohy was originally treated, that specializes in getting prosthetics for Iraqis. The IA Surgeon General’s Office Prosthetics Clinic is run by Iraqis, with American civil affairs support. Turnquist contacted the clinic and spoke with Chris Cummings, a retired Army medic and a prosthetist in the prosthetics clinic. Cummings, who is also an adviser for Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, assisted the unit with the process.

The next step was linking Mohy up with coalition forces in his area, which was done through Staff Sgt. Alfonza Chatfield, a medic with the 31st Military Transition Team, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, in al-Hillah, Iraq. Mohy was escorted to the Green Zone, Baghdad, on April 21 by Chatfield, an 18-year veteran and Georgia native, to the prosthetics clinic. Cummings checked Mohy’s limb to ensure it had healed properly. Cummings then manually measured different parts of the limb. Next, with the use of a computer-aided design program, he created a three-dimensional view of Mohy’s limb on a computer. Between the manual measurements and the program, Cummings generated a close representation of the limb. With the information gathered from this first trip, Cummings will create a prosthetic foot for Mohy, which will be fitted during the next visit.

“I’m a commander and I want to get back with my soldiers,” Mohy said. “I want to be able to walk and run again.”

Chris Cummings, a prosthetist in the IA surgeon general’s office prosthetics clinic in Baghdad, runs some tests on 1st Lt. Mohy Ali’s limb during an initial visit on April 21. Mohy, an IA soldier, lost his foot during an IED attack on Jan. 10 while on a joint mission with Coalition forces. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis).

Source: CENTCOM.

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April 25, 2008

Tune in: Veterans Radio Sat. 9am EST

Filed under: medics, otb, radio program, Vets — Rosemary Welch @ 6:47 am

Tomorrow morning we are going to be listening to a couple of Veteran ‘Doc’s’ from VietNam. Most men in our Army, then and now, recognize these ‘Doc’s’ as the bravest of the bunch. We will hear their own stories, their own challenges, their own pain and joy. Let me share with you my e-mail:

This Saturday 26 April 2008
0900 hours (9:00am) Eastern
War is hell…that’s why we have the
“DOC”

(Photo taken from the 100 Greatest War Photos of All Time)

The grunts will tell you the “Docs” were the bravest men they ever knew, and this Saturday you will learn why. Join host Gary Lillie as he interviews Army Medic Ray Essenmacher and Navy Corpsman Rick Whitsen; both of them combat ‘docs’ of the Vietnam War. Their stories will be graphic; and may wring out raw emotion. One thing is for sure; once you hear the stories they tell, you will thank every military person and veteran you meet for your freedom.

Tune in Saturday morning on WMAX (1440-AM, Saginaw), WDEO (990-AM, Ann Arbor/Detroit), WDEO-FM (98.5 FM, Naples, FL) or on the Internet at www.VeteransRadio.net.

Veterans Radio is dedicated to all the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces of the United States of America. Our mission is to provide all veterans with a voice, to give them a forum where they are able to discuss their issues…and tell their stories.

I listened last week, and I was very uplifted. Yes, it does get emotional so you may wish to have a hanky on hand, but it is really worth it. Please tune in with the rest of us. Hope to hear you there. 😉

Posts I’ve trackposted to:

The Pink Flimingo: RAPE IS RAPE.
third world county: Former (I like saying that) President Clinton Flayed for Rare Moment of Truth.
A NEWT ONE: Vulture Jihad: A Strange Thing Happened On BTR.
The World According To Carl: Godly Wisdom — April 24, 2008.
The Yankee Sailor: Yankee.
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Potbelly Stove: The Enigma That Is CFTA.
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Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: U.N. Declares Rising Food Costs a ‘Silent Tsunami’.
Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker: Should TIME apologize for offending our military?

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Posts that have trackbacked to this post: Saturday morning’s radio program features a couple of Veteran ‘Doc’s’ from VietNam. They are our Heroes who saved many lives. They are revered by the troops, and you are invited to tune in to hear their side of the story. Have a nice day

April 13, 2008

Baby left at doorstep finds new home

Filed under: adoption, CentCom, children, ME, medics — Rosemary Welch @ 2:07 pm

by Zach Mott
3rd BCT, 4th ID

BAGHDAD, Iraq (April 9, 2008) — Spotting irregularities is a tactic that is drilled into the minds of Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers throughout training and in practice while in Iraq. Soldiers recently watched as a car pulled up to an entry control point at Forward Operating Base Callahan in northern Baghdad. They continued to watch as a woman stepped out of the car holding a bag. Once the woman dropped the bag near the gate, internal alarms were ringing and a careful search was called for and conducted.

That search yielded a newborn baby wrapped tightly in cloth. Soldiers raced to the bag, retrieved the child and brought him to the aid station to be examined. “We unwrapped it to make sure he was alive – and he wasn’t sick, he wasn’t dead, he wasn’t injured,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Briscoe, the aid station non-commissioned officer in charge at FOB Callahan. “He was a perfectly healthy baby. I’m guessing three to seven days old. He was in perfect health. There wasn’t a scratch on him.”

This unlikely sight brought images of the Las Vegas native’s two children to mind. “It was like my kids were newborns again,” said Briscoe, who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad. After the medics were satisfied the baby, who by this time had drawn the nickname “Alex Callahan” after the Soldier who found him and the name of the base, was in no need of immediate medical attention, the focus shifted to what they would do with the child.

An interpreter working at the base volunteered to go to a nearby store to buy diapers and formula while another interpreter took care of Alex. Briscoe said the aid station became a hub of activity as word spread throughout the small base of the new arrival. “I’ve fed him twice, just holding him, watching him, making sure that he’s alright,” said Doreen Haddad, an interpreter with 1-68 AR, who helped care for Alex. “I’ve changed his diapers twice. I wanted to give him a bath, but I wasn’t able to.”

While a forward operating base isn’t the ideal location for a baby, Soldiers and those working at FOB Callahan ensured that Alex’s stay there was as comfortable as possible. The baby is to be adopted by the brother of a local national, who works at the base. The brother, and his wife, have been married five years and have been unable to have a baby of their own. The interpreters at FOB Callahan have taken a collection to donate to the family to help care for the baby.

Despite the thousands of miles that separates the Soldiers from their families in Colorado, one constant remains with this baby and those they left behind. “He’s sleeping and pooping, just like a regular baby,” Briscoe said.

“Alex Callahan,” the nickname for a baby boy left in a plastic bag near Forward Operating Base Callahan, sleeps soundly at the Coalition base in northern Baghdad. The baby was thoroughly checked out by medics and given a clean bill of health.(U.S. Army photo).

Source: CentCom.
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April 10, 2008

Afghan police graduate first trauma assistance personnel

Filed under: CentCom, medics, Navy, SW Asia — Rosemary Welch @ 9:06 pm

by Luis P. Valdespino Jr.
CJTF 82 Public Affairs.

KABUL, Afghanistan (April 3, 2008) – The Afghan National Police Central Training Center graduated 24 police officers today from the first course for trauma-assistance personnel taught by U.S. Navy hospital corpsmen. Three Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Navy corpsmen from the ANP Medical Embedded Training Team here taught the eight-week course, which gives the ANP its first personnel certified in basic first aid and medical care skills.

“Just being able to put on a proper (wound) dressing is going to increase the probability of (saving policemen’s lives) tenfold,” said course instructor Petty Officer 1st Class Ed W. Scheinert, an Oxnard, Calif., native deployed to Afghanistan from Naval Station North Island, Calif.

The METT sailors said they modeled the course after the combat medic course taught to Afghan National Army soldiers, because ANP are just as likely as ANA soldiers to have contact with enemy fighters. TAP Class 001 students learned to apply bandages and tourniquets and to correctly give intravenous injections, said Scheinert. They each successfully gave another student an IV injection.

Students said they benefited from the lectures and practical application. Ahmad Fawad, one of two honor graduates, said he believes with confidence that he will be able to help his fellow police in medical emergencies.

Chief Petty Officer Manuel A. Rodriguez, a course instructor originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, and deployed to Afghanistan from the Sewells Point Branch Medical Clinic, Norfolk, Va., said he plans to recommend six graduates to become future course instructors.

The TAP students graduated at a shared ceremony with ANP in other courses at the training center, then held a follow-up ceremony in their classroom. Each TAP graduate received a certificate, a TAP patch to wear on his uniform and a medical kit. “That badge that you’re wearing not only makes you a better (policeman), but (shows) you have the skills to help your fellow police,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Martin V. Aquino, senior enlisted adviser with the Combined Security Transition Command surgeon’s office.

Scheinert said future classes will include ANP, Afghan National Civil Order Police and Afghan Border Police. TAP Class 002 is scheduled to begin April 12, 2008.

Students with the Afghan National Police Trauma Assistance Personnel course treat a fellow policeman’s simulated wounds during the inaugural course at the ANP Central Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Source: CentCom.
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March 27, 2008

Girl awaiting surgery may get wish

Filed under: CentCom, children, ME, medics, USA — Rosemary Welch @ 12:33 pm

3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

FOB KALSU, Iraq (March 20, 2008) – A young girl and her family are anxiously awaiting a decision from an organization in Los Angeles to determine the fate of her eyesight.

Soldiers of Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, escorted 5-year-old Noor to the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, March 14, to have her eyes evaluated by an optometrist. The medical evaluation done in Iraq will give doctors almost 8,000 miles away the information they need to determine whether they’ll perform the surgery.

Initial diagnosis by Lt. Col. Hee-Choon Lee, battalion surgeon for the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, found that Noor was blind due to a birth defect which resulted in poorly-developed corneas in both her eyes. Her 32-year-old uncle Mustafa also suffers from the same defect. The information from Noor’s medical appointment will be evaluated by doctors from the Eye Defects Research Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Los Angeles. The foundation will make a decision on whether or not she is a viable candidate for surgery and where the surgery would take place.

Lee said if representatives from the foundation can find other patients to operate on in Iraq, then a trip could be organized. If not, then coalition forces would work to have the young child and her family taken to Los Angeles to have the surgery done.

While her uncle is also being evaluated as a candidate for surgery, his case requires more caution. Lee said because he is an adult, his eyes might not heal as easily as those of his young niece. “I think Noor’s left eye has a lot of hope. Her right eye may not be a good candidate because it is too small,” said Lee a native of Larton, Va., “All the (ultrasound) pictures were sent up and we’re waiting.”

In a study of corneal transplants success in pediatric patients done by Emory University, the success rate in the best of circumstances was only 50 percent. “We are all working towards getting this young girl the gift of sight,” Lee said.

Source: CentCom.

January 14, 2008

More Military News: Baby girl, students, clinic

Filed under: CentCom, hospitals, ME, medics, pics, recon, school, SW Asia — Rosemary Welch @ 5:47 am

This is a very touching article, and it is sad at the same time. Thank God for our guys.

Coalition, Afghan Soldiers save baby girl.
by Media Center Bagram
Bagram Media Center.
January 9, 2008
.

Coalition medics stabilize a 1-year-old girl who was badly burned when she fell into a fire used to heat her family’s home in the Lashkar Gah District, Helmand Province. Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces worked together to save the girl’s life and arranged her transport to another military outpost with more substantial medical capabilities. She was escorted to the new military outpost by her uncle. Photo by Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – ANSF and CF saved the life of a 1-year-old girl after she was badly burned falling into a fire used to heat her family’s home in Lashkar Gah District in Helmand Province. Coalition medics immediately began lifesaving efforts after her family brought her to a combined military outpost. Doctors assessed the girl’s condition and determined she was burned over 20 percent of her body, including burns to her face, arms, scalp and hands. Medics arranged for a helicopter to take the child, escorted by her uncle, to another military outpost with more medical capabilities in the nearby Washir District of Helmand Province. Doctors prepared, cleaned and dressed the baby’s burns. “While there are clinics and medical facilities in Helmand District, sometimes it is difficult for villagers in outlying areas to access that care,” explained a Coalition forces medic. “ANSF and Coalition forces were able to work together to save this little girl’s life. Even though insurgents have made life difficult for villagers in this region, ANSF are committed to providing for the well being and security of the Afghan people.”

I pray this young child lives throught this ordeal. I know the medics who worked on her certainly do, too.

Coalition troops aid Afghan students in Bagram.
by Media Center Bagram
Jan. 8, 2008

Bagram Media Center.

A Coalition servicemember chats with a young student at the Jan Qadam School, near Bagram Village, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 6, while Haji Enr Yatullah, the school’s principal and a village elder, look on. Servicemembers brought donated winter clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies to the school to show their support for villagers.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — It was a banner day Jan. 6 for children attending the Jan Qadam School near Bagram village. Coalition troops assigned to Bagram Airfield stopped by the school, which is near the airfield, to visit with children, teachers and village elders, as well as deliver several boxes of school supplies and toys. The eight-room schoolhouse caters to more than 1,000 students daily, in three shifts. The students range in age from 5 to 15 years old. Fifteen servicemembers entered the village carrying boxes of supplies for the children.

Once they arrived at the school, village elders distributed the items to the children, boys in one classroom and girls in another. The children laughed and smiled as they received their gifts, which included notebooks, pencils, crayons and toys. Some students received new shoes and personal hygiene items.

Haji Enr Yatullah, the school’s principal and a village elder, said being good neighbors is important for the well-being of the village. “You not only help me, but you help all the villages around here,” Yatullah said. … In addition to delivering school supplies and other goods, CF met with village elders to see what other types of assistance they could provide. [Continue reading.]

Many Americans send supplies for the children, such as pencils, pens, paper, crayons, backpacks, and even clothes. If you are interested in sending something to the children, there are many organizations which you can go through. Soldiers’ Angels is a good source to find what you are for.

Corps of Engineers completes al Mahaweel clinic.
by John Connor
Jan. 9, 2008
Gulf Region Division, US Army Corps of Engineers
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The Al Mahaweel Primary Healthcare Clinic in Babil Province was recently completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division South district.

BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq — Work is complete on a primary healthcare center at al Mahaweel in Babil Province. The facility was constructed for about $1 million under two construction contracts and five non-construction contacts, according to Robin Parks, health sector program manager for the Gulf Region South District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. GRS does construction and reconstruction work in the nine southern provinces of Iraq. The money for the clinic was provided under the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. The non-construction contracts provided medical equipment, plus installation and training, as well as electrical generators, furniture and office equipment, Parks said. [Continue reading.]

Our guys and gals are doing so many good works that go unnoticed by the dinosaur media day in and day out, it makes me wonder if they truly want us to win. Just thinking, ya know?

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Sadr City hospital renovations near completion

Filed under: CentCom, hospitals, ME, medics, recon — Rosemary Welch @ 1:25 am

Source: CentCom.

by Norris Jones
Jan. 7 2008
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BAGHDAD, Iraq – Extensive renovations will soon be complete at one of Sadr City’s major hospitals in east Baghdad. Al Baladi Maternity and Children’s Hospital initially opened in 1982 and during the following two decades little was spent on routine maintenance, said Iraqi Project Engineer Mohammad Attar, who oversees the hospital’s upgrade for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “During Saddam’s time, patients there had to tolerate 100-degree-plus interior temperatures because the air conditioning system was broke,” he explained.

The $12 million, three-year renovation included the installation of four new chillers, four cooling towers and four new boilers. “Those improvements helped the elderly and infants, who have little tolerance for heat and cold. The hospital is now able to maintain a comfortable interior temperature in both summer and winter,” Attar noted. Other improvements include an oxygen plant, central vacuum system, nurse call system, intercom paging system, data communications network, new toilets and showers, new exhaust system to remove unhealthy air, new generator for emergency power, medical waste incinerator, and new water purification system.

The medical staff of eight doctors and thirty nurses is treating five times the number of sick people they saw prior to the renovation. They’re seeing 150 to 200 patients daily, 80 percent of which are children. Their obstetric department is delivering 30 to 40 newborns every day. “One of their main goals is reducing the infant mortality rate and the new equipment is making a difference,” Attar said. The two-story hospital has a bed capacity for 200 patients.

More than 100 Iraqis have been part of the construction crew. They installed a new roof, put in new plumbing and electrical, rebuilt the physicians’ family-size apartments, added a new cafeteria area and kitchen, new lighting, new plastering, redid all the floors and ceilings, new surgical theater suite and x-ray equipment.

“It’s truly rewarding to know we’ve helped some of the poorest people in Baghdad,” Attar said. “They were tolerating absolutely horrible conditions. The toilets were overflowing, the air was stagnant, the medical equipment was outdated and much of it didn’t work. Despite ongoing insurgency threats, the contractor kept making steady progress. Today, Sadr City families have a modern facility and access to equipment that was simply not available three years ago. We’re all proud to have been a part of the effort.”

An Iraqi woman cares for her child at a newly renovated hospital in Sadr City, Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo).

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