HADITHA, Iraq -- A celebration of smiles from corner to corner filled the radiology waiting room Wednesday at the hospital in Haditha, Iraq.
The hospital, which was previously damaged by an insurgent explosion, held a ground-breaking ceremony to commemorate the new facilities that will be reconstructed.
“When we showed up to the hospital, it was functioning like a (U.S.) hospital in the ‘50s,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael A. Wilson, assistant battalion surgeon, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5. “They couldn’t even do basic hygiene.”
“With improved security, (we) got funding to get this place fixed,” added Wilson.
Navy Capt. John H. Nadeau, battalion surgeon, 3rd Bn., 23rd Marine Regiment, oversaw the hospital’s improvement plan.
“When (3rd Bn., 23rd Marines) came here six months ago, (Lt. Col. Dave G.) Bellon, (commanding officer, 3rd Bn., 23rd Marines), insisted that we go see the medical team here,” said Nadeau, who is also a medical professor at Vanderbilt University. “Haditha was very fortunate because they had excellent doctors, but what Haditha needed were the tools for the doctors to do their jobs.”
A few tools that are being created at the hospital include a new administrative wing, more hospital beds, a new air conditioning system and a new surgery facility for the patients.
The reconstruction process isn’t complete yet, but the hospital’s future looks promising and it will be able to offer the people adequate medical care.
Nadeau is hopeful about the future of the area and what this facility is going to bring to the people now and in the future.
“(The hospital) means everything; everybody needs good medical care,” said Nadeau as he expressed his thoughts to a doctor at the hospital.
“Haditha is going to get the hospital it deserves when it’s done,” said Nadeau. “Where little girls like Amenah can get the care she needs without going to America.”
Amenah is a 2-year-old girl from Haditha who had a congenital heart defect that required surgery. The present hospital in Haditha was unable to perform the operation, so Amenah was flown to the U.S. where she had successful surgery and is now back in Haditha.
“This project, as well as any other, will have far reaching benefits to the people of Haditha in the future,” said Lt. Cmdr. James H. Lee, a civil engineer. “I can’t wait to get to work.”
As the ground-breaking ceremony came to a close, Coalition forces and Iraqi leaders exchanged gratitude towards each other.
“I would like to thank everybody who helped re-build and re-establish the hospital, and I am especially thankful for the Coalition forces,” said Dr. Walid Abd-Al-Khaliq, the hospital’s director.