Caring for the People

1st Cavalry News

Soldiers provide medical assistance to Karkh residents

By Sgt. Robert Yde  
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

            BAGHDAD – After recently standing up a combat outpost in Baghdad’s Karkh District, Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment decided they needed to do something to reach out to the surrounding community and let the residents know they are there to help.

            The first step in this effort was a medical mission the task force, which is attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted in an abandoned building adjacent to their combat outpost May 26.

            “We want to establish a good relationship with the people of this community, so that they know we’re close by, and that’s why we’re providing a little bit of medical help to them,” Maj. Elvis Coronado, the unit’s operations plans officer explained.

            The logistical efforts for the medical mission were headed up by the civil affairs team, from Co. B, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C., which is working with Task Force 1-14.

            “Basically what we do is civil reconnaissance for the commander in the area, and we come in and assess the infrastructure and security of an area,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Burns, the team sergeant.

                 “This area doesn’t have a clinic. So we thought with the COP being right beside it, the best thing to win over the people would be coming here and conducting a [medical mission] so that the people understand we’re here to help them.”

            Burns, who is originally from Lakeland, Fla., said that he meets with the local leaders in the area often and medical assistance was one thing that they specifically asked for.

            Having conducted similar operations with his team numerous times over the past two years in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, Burns was quickly able to procure the medicine, enlist the help of the required personnel and organize the event.

            Once they arrived at the selected sight for the operation, a make shift doctors office with two treatment rooms – one for males and another for women and children – was quickly set up and stocked with medicine that had been purchased from the local economy.

            “Most of the time we try to purchase local that way the money is going back into the community, and it’s not a foreign medicine to them,” explained Burns.

            On hand to assist the patients were the brigade’s surgeon, Lt. Col. Margret Merino and the task force surgeon, Maj. Isaac Johnson, both of whom were assisted by additional medics.

            According to Johnson, a native of India, many of the patients who he treated came in with similar ailments and symptoms.

            “We definitely saw a lot of the same things over and over,” he explained. “Mainly things like vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition, a lot of suspected worm infestations of the abdomen, a lot of rashes and a lot of children with ear infections.”

            The majority of the medicine that was distributed was described by Johnson as basic medication that would be given out during sick call, but many people also brought prescriptions in with them that they hoped could be filled.

            “We got a good feel that they’re in need of some type of pharmacy because a lot of what they came for was refills on their medications,” Buffalo, N.Y. native, Merino explained.

             While Johnson and Merino were the only two doctors on hand for this mission they are both hoping to do this again in the near future, but next time with help from some of the local doctors.

            “We foresee working with Iraqi doctors,” Merino said. “There are some very good physicians who are from this area who have expressed a desire to help us out and actually be the main people who are providing the care, and that’s what we hope to see for the future operations.”

            Merino also said that there are plans to set up a self-sufficient clinic in the area that will be able to provide the residents with health care needs on a steadier basis.

            “There’s an empty building, and these doctors have a desire to work in that building,” she explained. “It would be a very nice practice with five different types of sub-specialty doctors, and we’re going to try really hard to get that open for them.”

            During the three hours that the station was set up, nearly 200 people were treated, and while Merino said that she finds it rewarding to be able to come out into the community and help the people, she is excited about the prospect of Iraqi doctors taking over health care in the area.

        “I certainly enjoy doing this, but I think it is really important that we start taking ourselves back and letting the Iraqi doctors be on the front lines,” she said. “I think that will be the main goal, at least for me, while I’m here, to try to make that happen. It’s still very gratifying for me to be able to come out here though and try to do something.”
An Iraqi Soldier takes the names of a man and his two children before they see the doctor during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Karkh District conducted by Task Force 1-14 May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

An Iraqi Soldier takes the names of a man and his two children before they see the doctor during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Karkh District conducted by Task Force 1-14 May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

1st Lt. Bradley Smith greets a young patient during a medical operation conducted by Soldiers from Task Force 1-14 in Baghdad’s Karkh District May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

1st Lt. Bradley Smith greets a young patient during a medical operation conducted by Soldiers from Task Force 1-14 in Baghdad’s Karkh District May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs) I love this picture. It warms my heart seeing the Soldier reaching out to the child.

Staff Sgt. Travis Delmatto (left), a medic with 1-1-6th military transition team, looks on while 1st Lt. David Seelen, a physician’s assistant with Task Force 1-14, examines a patient’s toe during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Karkh District May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Travis Delmatto (left), a medic with 1-1-6th military transition team, looks on while 1st Lt. David Seelen, a physician’s assistant with Task Force 1-14, examines a patient’s toe during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Karkh District May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Margret Merino, brigade surgeon for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, examines a young boy during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Karkh District May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Margret Merino, brigade surgeon for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, examines a young boy during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Karkh District May 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Sgt. Yde,

I have a question for you, sir. I am sending out an email. Thank you again for another well written article. Stay safe and keep the good news coming.

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