Kosovo hospital helps train U.S. KFOR EMT students
Capt. Eugene Vajna, Orlando, Fla., shows Staff Sgt. Kimberly Lohse, Windom, Minn., techniques for taking the vital signs of a patient at the Gjilan/Gnjilane Regional Hospital in Kosovo.

GJILAN/GNJILANE, Kosovo - Soldiers from Camp Bondsteel have been studying in a unique classroom this term: the hospital in Gjilan/Gnjilane, Kosovo.

Students enrolled in the emergency medical technician class at the Camp Bondsteel branch of Central Texas College travel twice a week to the Gjilan/Gnjilane Regional Hospital for clinical training in the hospital's emergency room.

Capt. Eugene Vajna, Orlando, Fla., the nurse anesthetist for Camp Bondsteel's hospital, teaches the EMT class.

"It's very interesting working in Gjilan/Gnjilane," he said. "It's good because you see a lot of conditions that you wouldn't otherwise see back home. And it's a much better rotation than they would get at the Camp Bondsteel hospital just because of the patient load."

Vajna said each of the 22 students in the class are required to perform 25 hours of clinical patient contact work in order to successfully complete their training. The students spend 16 of those hours at the hospital in Gjilan/Gnjilane, with the remaining hours spent at Camp Bondsteel's medical facility.

"I was really excited when Capt. Vajna told us at the beginning of class that we would have the opportunity to come here," said Staff Sgt. Kimberly Lohse of Windom, Minn. "The staff has been so welcoming to us. They explain everything that they are doing and let us get our hands in there and get some experience as well."

Col. Edwin Moore, commander of Camp Bondsteel's medical facility, encouraged Vajna to arrange to send his students to Gjilan/Gnjilane for training.

"He said we should look into it and sure enough we made it work," Vajna said. "If it wouldn't have been for Col. Moore's support, this wouldn't have gotten off the ground."

Pfc. Charles Johnson of Grand Forks, N.D., said that the clinical work in Gjilan/Gnjilane allowed students to have a much broader learning experience than was possible in the United States.

"From our perspective, our EMT students are getting good clinical experience," Vajna said. "It's a little bit unconventional as opposed to what a normal EMT course would be like back home. If there's anything here that they learn here over and above a normal EMT course, if it helps them when they're downrange in the future, it will have been well worth it."

A surprising element of working at the hospital was seeing how much families are involved in medical care in Kosovo, said Staff Sgt. Danelle Tate of Grandin, N.D.

"It's very family oriented here," she said. "The families help a lot and the doctors are there to facilitate. I saw a patient come in for an X-ray and the family did everything necessary to prepare the patient except for pushing the button to take the X-ray."

Vajna said that the staff of the Gjilan/Gnjilane hospital are benefitting from working with the EMT students.

"The Gjilan/Gnjilane emergency room staff is getting exposure to training U.S. students and by the same token they're learning little things about how we do things," he said. "They're altering their practice just by having us there. Hopefully the next step will be to have some formal training or lectures that our ER nurses can do for their ER staff."

The director of the Gjilan/Gnjilane Regional Hospital, Dr. Xhavit Hajdari, said the EMT clinical program demonstrated the strong level of cooperation between the Kosovo Forces and the community.

"The presence of the students here honors us a lot," he said. "Every day the cooperation between our hospital and the Camp Bondsteel Hospital grows stronger. I hope we can continue working together."

Page last updated Thu March 25th, 2010 at 03:42