By Sgt. Amber Robinson (Task Force Spartan Journalist )February 7, 2009
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - As International Security Assistance Force Soldiers continue to reinforce bases across Afghanistan, more forward installations are taking steps to facilitate Soldiers' everyday needs.
For Soldiers of C Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, otherwise known as "Charlie Med," providing reliable medical care, especially for chronic conditions, has become part of that process.
Charlie Med's facility is currently operating as a "level two," which means it does not offer surgery, in-patient care or a pharmacy - at least a level two does not usually offer a pharmacy.
Staff Sgt. James Wilson Jr., a pharmacy technician with C Company, 710th BSB, was given the task of raising the bar for himself and fellow medical Soldiers. Upon his arrival at Jalalabad Airfield, Wilson began work on the first pharmacy in-country to facilitate a level-two establishment.
"I was told I was going to build a pharmacy here at JAF," Wilson said. "In a normal situation, when a pharmacy goes up, we usually oversee the construction, making sure builders know how we need it set up. But in this case, they meant we would actually build the pharmacy from scratch ourselves."
Wilson was presented with a small hull of a room. Within one week of his tasking, a fully functional pharmaceutical facility had emerged. Wilson and colleagues added on to the room, making it larger. They constructed shelves, wired additional lighting and laid flooring. Medications were ordered in advance and shelves were stocked promptly after construction was complete.
"We are not fully automated currently," Wilson said. "We are filling prescriptions strictly on paper. Soon we should have our computer system in place so we can enter prescriptions for patients into the system and I can check their meds in that manner. Right now it's a little basic, but that will change in the next couple of weeks."
Within the next few weeks, the pharmacy also will receive a pill counter and a label printer.
"Within two weeks we should have a fully automated pharmacy, comparable to those in more established (forward operating bases)," Wilson said.
The location of a pharmacy at a more "forward" base has more than obvious benefits.
"We have moved an accommodation that is usually reserved for more established FOBs into a forward location," Wilson said. "Soldiers who are downrange will now have the opportunity to acquire the meds they need in a far more timely manner."
Soldiers of Task Force Spartan will benefit significantly from the newly built pharmacy. The pharmacy will help mitigate challenges posed by the brigade's four-month extension in-theater.
"Most Soldiers with the brigade were equipped with chronic meds for the one year they would be in country," Wilson said. "With the extension, getting those meds continued could prove difficult. With the pharmacy, we have most common chronic meds on hand and are fully capable of ordering anything needed because of our new establishment."
The unit that follows Spartan Brigade into the northeast also will be able to use the new pharmacy. Meanwhile, as 3rd BCT continues its rotation, the pharmacy's capabilities grow.
"It's not perfect, but we are making it work," Wilson said. "We will continue to build on what we have to reach the utmost standard."
"With any new endeavor, especially one as remarkable as this pharmacy, there may be minor kinks," said Sgt. Amanda Marion, a medic with C Company, 710th BSB. "We have the right man for the job in Staff Sgt. Wilson. He knows his stuff, and if we don't have exactly what is needed, we can find something that works.
"We are adaptable and willing to do what it takes to get Soldiers what they need," she added. "We want to make sure our Soldiers are taken care of. They should never hesitate to turn to Charlie Med for any medical care they need."