By Staff Sgt. Jason Douglas, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsJune 22, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - As part of a regular checkup, to get a specific diagnosis or to verify progress being made, a physician might request laboratory tests or order X-rays to detect disease, or even an ultrasound to determine the sex of a baby for new parents. But none of that can happen without functioning equipment or medical staff trained to troubleshoot problems.
Medical personnel from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division travelled to the Azadi Hospital in Kirkuk city, Iraq to assess the X-ray machines, ultrasound equipment and laboratory, and talk with hospital staff about their training needs.
According to Staff Sgt. Han Parker, a San Antonio native and the 2nd BCT medical sergeant, his focus was to use 2BCT medical assets to develop hospital procedures and provide any necessary training on medical equipment.
Parker also stated the Azadi Hospital is one of the best in Kirkuk province with many of the doctors also working as instructors at a nearby medical school.
"We came to the hospital to check the functionality of the laboratory and X-ray equipment," said Parker. "We want to get an accurate assessment of what equipment repairs are needed and what we can do to help the staff use the tools they have."
The Azadi Hospital director, Dr. Niaz Ameen, led the members of the hospital assessment team on a tour, first of the X-ray facilities. Sgt. Jennifer Winschel, a South Westfleet, Mass. native and an X-ray specialist in the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2BCT, got a chance to evaluate the Iraqi technicians on their use of an ultrasound machine.
Winschel spent time with her Iraqi counterparts demonstrating the techniques she uses with the equipment.
I'll do some research on the equipment, coordinate with some of our medical personnel and offer a few tips I think may create efficiencies in how they're using their equipment, Winschel explained.
While they have three X-ray machines, two are currently in need of maintenance, Parker said.
Some of the equipment the hospital has is somewhat new, and most of the older equipment is still useful. We may be able to establish a relationship between the hospital and manufacturers to refurbish or replace parts at no cost to the hospital, Parker explained.
The next stop was the laboratory department where Spc. Patrick Shannon, a Boston native and a laboratory specialist also with 15th BSB, inspected equipment and helped to determine what training requirements the technicians may have.
"I was able to see what equipment was on site and find out what repairs were needed," Shannon said. "Certain repairs I can do."
Niaz's immediate concern in the lab was the diabetes diagnostic machine, the only machine of its kind in the province to test for the disease, which has been inoperable for some time.
According to Parker, diabetes is a big concern in the region. Without the diabetes tester, patients have to travel to Erbil, Iraq, some 54 miles north of Kirkuk to get tested.
"The diabetes tester is probably...something we can fix," Shannon said.
After the team finished its assessment, Lt. Col. Chris Whittaker, a Killeen, Texas native, and commander of the 15th BSB whose medical personnel were part of the assessment team, extended his help and offered to provide training, and even invited Niaz and his staff to travel to FOB Warrior's hospital.
"I would like to invite the hospital personnel to come to FOB Warrior's clinic and build on our friendship," Whittaker said. "This is an opportunity for your staff to come and see how we conduct business."
After the team finished reviewing the X-ray's and laboratory, talking with medical personnel at the hospital, the team made plans for future engagements.
"We plan on taking what we have learned here, going back and developing classes and researching the maintenance needs of the hospitals equipment," said Parker. "We will come back in a couple of weeks to offer help. This is just the beginning of the partnership."