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Soldiers, Marines open medical clinic in Marine zone

12 Jun 2004 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

Iraqi citizens in one borough of Ar Ramadi recently got a boost in the availability of medical care, thanks to soldiers and Marines.

Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and Marines from 3rd Civil Affairs Group celebrated the opening of a medical clinic in the city's 5K district.  It was a project the soldiers - who are serving with the 1st Marine Division - identified as a community need months ago.

"When we first met with the leadership of the community, the number one thing they needed was a new medical clinic," said Army 1st Lt. Greg MacMillion, a civil affairs officer with 1 BCT.  "When we saw the clinic they were using, we could see it was in pretty bad shape."

The community's old medical clinic was a tin-roofed structure.  The facility was old and lacked electricity.  An oil lantern stood on a table in an examining room.  The back room pharmacy was a series of aluminum lockers.  Arabic posters extolling proper health measures and proper infant care covered the walls.

By contrast, the new medical clinic is constructed of concrete with carpeting on the floors.  A fresh coat of paint, inside and out, was evident.  There is a modern plumbing and a refrigerator to keep medicines cool.  New furniture for the waiting area and even examining tables were bought.

The Imam from the mosque next to the facility donated the land the clinic was built upon.

The entire project cost $71,000, according to MacMillion.  The cost to build the new facility was roughly the same as it would have been to renovate the old.

"It took about five weeks for this to be completed once construction started," MacMillion explained.

Army Lt. Col. Mike Cabrey, the commanding officer 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, helped the clinic's doctors cut the ribbon to the new facility and commented that the event was a step forward in the relationship between the Iraqis in the community and Coalition Forces.

"This is a reflection of the support and the kindness this community has shown us," Cabrey said.  "I'd like to come by here and see people being cared for; Iraqis taking care of Iraqis."

The clinic is considered a smaller medical facility and sees as many as 200 patients each week.  Patients are treated for a variety of ailments from minor aches and pains to sometimes more serious complications.

"Things like this give us a purpose for coming out," MacMillion said.  "It's nice to see something you did happen like this.  It makes sitting behind the gun all day long a little better."