CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - Local residents, village officials and U.S. Soldiers participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the official opening of the Al Quba Medical Clinic, Feb. 14.

Similar to an urgent care facility in the United States, the clinic, the first in the village, opened its doors providing services to local Al Quba residents in late January.

"The project was a joint partnership between the U.S. and Iraqi government," said Tom Baker, an officer in the Forward Engineering Support Team-Advanced, a part of the Reconstruction Cell at U.S. Division-North. "We provided the funds and they made it happen."

Approximately 2,400 people live in Al Quba, who until recently, had to travel to other cities for their basic medical needs, said Baker.

"The fact that we brought care to people in need makes me feel terrific," said Baker, a native of Eagle River, Alaska, and the project manager for the clinic. "This is one of the most important things I've done since I've been here."

The clinic currently employs one doctor and five nurses, and the medical team is providing medical services to approximately 400 people per day, said Adal Ismail, Director of Health for the Ninewa province.

"It helps everyone to have a clinic within walking distance instead of traveling to the city," said Bashar Gumaa, a resident of Al Quba.
"If I need to give my daughter a vaccination, I can bring her right here," Gumaa said, as he gave his young daughter a kiss on the cheek.

Soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, provided security during the ceremony to show support to Al Quba residents.

"It's nice to be a part of something in this community," said Sgt. James Taggart, a field artilleryman assigned to Battery A, 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt. "This village has never had any kind of medical facility, and now they will be able to seek medical attention right in their own neighborhood," said Taggart a native of Los Angeles.