1st Cavalry News
Karkh doctors hold medical mission in Haifa St. clinic
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – Dr. Haitham Issa, with his stethoscope, walked from exam room to exam room monitoring his staff and patients in the Al Karkh Public Health Clinic April 14.
It’s something he hasn’t been able to do for a while during the violence in the Karkh district, and the burden of not being able to not only do his job, but to fulfill the oath he took when becoming a doctor has been hard on his conscious.
“I’m afraid to come here, but I am a doctor; I have to give something back to the public because they are so poor,” Issa said. “It is my duty; of course there are risks – I have to take all those risks.”
According to Maj. Bruce Rivers, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s brigade surgeon, the clinics in Karkh, around the Haifa Street district, all shut down due to the violence of the past year or so. Only until recently, as the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces helped provide that important piece have the local residents, doctors and other medical staff been able to come back and open up one clinic.
Approximately 180 patients from the local area came by the clinic to seek treatment for such ailments from common colds to shrapnel wounds.
Last month, Rivers, who calls Washington, D.C. home, and a team of 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cav. Div. medics went to Haifa St., and ran a sick call, of sorts.
According to Rivers, although it went well, his intent was to have the medical mission “totally” run by Iraqi doctors and nurses.
So, this time, with the local Iraqi national police and 4-9 Cav. Soldiers providing security around the area, a team of Iraqi doctors, nurses and pharmacists completely ran the medical mission.
“I’ve been able to stay back and work on just the planning,” Rivers said.
According to Lt. Col. Patrick Matlock, 4-9 Cav.’s commander, having the Iraqi security forces lead the charge in this medical mission was a “really big deal.”
“[The residents] have to associate good with their local government,” said Matlock of Chico, Calif. “They have to see the local government as strong … our job is to make that a reality.”
For local doctor, Mustafa, the new level of security in and around Haifa St. is “nice.”
A doctor since 1963, Mustafa, has practiced general surgery in that area for a long time, but had to take a break due to the recent violence.
“It’s really nice to have all the security now,” he said. “It was also very good to bring all the medicine.”
According to local health officials, the clinic plans to stay open for as long as the security in the area allows for the locals to receive the care safely, and to get back to the amount of patients it once received.
Being able to operate as they did before has been “great” for Issa, who is happy that he gets to fulfill his duties as a doctor and also to help his fellow Iraqis.
A local woman goes to wait in line for her child during a medical mission in Baghdad, Iraq April 14. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Staff Sgt. Michael Jenkins Jr., a medic assigned to B, 4-9 Cav., 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, of Chicago, checks out a rash on a child during a medical mission in Baghdad, Iraq April 14. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
A local woman brings her son in to be seen by one of the Iraqi doctors during the medical mission in Baghdad, Iraq April 14. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)