RAMADI, Iraq (January 7, 2009) --
Service members at Camp Ramadi, Iraq, toured Ramadi General Hospital and donated 20 crates of medical supplies including oxygen masks, IV bags and mass casualty equipment, Jan. 7.
Soldiers and sailors with the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team-Ramadi and with Regimental Combat Team 1 visited with staff at the hospital to discuss emergency response capabilities and preparedness for potential threats during Iraq’s elections scheduled for Jan. 31.
While Coalition forces and citizens alike hope for a peaceful election process, the need to be prepared for mass casualties is everpresent as Iraqis work to rid insurgent activity and build a sovereign nation.
“Since Ramadi General Hospital is the regional referral and trauma center for al Anbar Province and for the city of Ramadi respectively, it was imperative to reassess its capabilities,” said Cmdr. Sung W. Song, the regimental surgeon for Regimental Combat Team 1.
The hospital is one of 11 hospitals in al Anbar and has the province’s only burn center. It is capable of handling just over 400 patients, with a one-nurse-per-20-patient ratio.
With four floors and 13 operating suites, the hospital operates at 70 percent capacity, on average, with a staff of 45 surgeons.
Dr. Thaer Mohammed Dhaher al-Sa’ad, a general surgeon and the hospital manager, said his staff has discussed plans for the election period, and “as always we will be ready and on stand-by.”
Thaer thanked the service members for the hospital supplies, and said there are many more things the hospital needs.
The hospital was built in 1984 and could use some refurbishments. Thaer pointed out plumbing and flooring problems throughout the hospital and some faulty medical equipment in need of repair.
Lt. Colonel Joseph Fasceski, a civil affairs officer with ePRT-Ramadi, said he and others work closely with the hospital to provide whatever possible, but with Iraq’s new government there is a budgeting system in place for financial needs.
“We work with them as much as possible,” Fasceski explained. “But the long-term key to (the hospital’s stability) is to work in the direction of making their system work better.”
Fasceski said finances and equipment had always been “pushed down from the top” in the past, and the new system of budgeting from bottom to top is one that he and other ePRT members are assisting the hospital staff with. He said getting results has been slow, but he hopes after the elections the process will become more fluent.