American paramedic committed to health care for all on Basra
September 29, 2010
- American civilian healthcare provider takes pay cut to go to southern Iraq to treat third-country nationals working on an American base
- Cory Brown of San Diego turned a dirt lot into a fully-functional facility capable of providing care to the third-country employees
- "I treat them because everyone deserves respect and to have their dignity," Brown said
Arriving in a foreign country with limited medical supplies and equipment, one nurse, no facility, and a number of unforeseen obstacles, one man pressed on to create a professional medical operation and provide health care to the hundreds of non-U.S. employees living on Basra Air Field.
"It was just a dirt lot," said Cory Brown, a civilian paramedic who traveled thousands of miles, leaving his hometown of San Diego. "Last year, this facility was not here."
"It wasn't adequate enough to treat someone in an acute status," Brown said explaining conditions after a working facility was established. "We had a bed, a cardiac monitor and some minor drugs then."
"It's grown tremendously. We have an emergency room, lab and x-ray room now," Brown said. "We have more medical supplies to treat multiple people from minor to serious injuries or illness."
"There's a staff of six, including an Iraqi doctor," Brown said. "It has been a complete turnaround."
Over the year, Brown has developed a more personal relationship with his patients.
"It's not only the Iraqi people. There's Pakistanis, Indians, people from Nepal and Bangladesh, that never had any form of medical care," Brown said. "We're not only treating them, but we're teaching basic proper hygiene, health care, dental care so they can live a healthy lifestyle, and they really appreciate it."
"You're not trying to change them or their culture. You teach them the basics," Brown said. "Just things they never knew, just as they're teaching me about their culture I never knew."
A trained paramedic, Brown feels there is only so much one can learn in a classroom, and to make a bigger difference one must put head-to-hands, go out in the field, and get a better grasp of the profession.
"You're given the tools to treat someone, but do you have the tools to be empathetic and sympathetic towards these people'" Brown asked rhetorically. "I don't see race or ethnicity; I treat these people as though they were my own relatives."
Leaving the comforts of home and all the luxuries life has to offer in his hometown, Brown finds higher reasons for being in Iraq and feels the people deserve more.
"I treat them because everyone deserves respect and to have their dignity protected," Brown said, "and maybe they can take away something from us, maybe their view of American people or culture or what we are as a country could be change by one instance."
Brown understands many of the patients from third world countries do not have large incomes, but he will not turn them away.
"For once it's not about the money, it's really about the people," Brown said. "We're going to do everything we possibly can to see them get better, to see their well-being is always protected."
Although he does not wear the uniform, he feels he serves for similar reasons as service members.
"They're sacrificing all of their freedom their entire tenure of service" Brown said. "Maybe it's not the same cause of fighting for a nation, but you have to have the same mindset that you believe in what they're fighting for."
"If you don't, then you are out here for the wrong reasons."