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Medics Treat Patients, Boost Iraqi Clinic's Reputation

By Sgt. Sean Kimmons, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

LOWER JAWAALA, Iraq, Jan. 5, 2005 – About 40 medical personnel, mostly from 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, treated more than 160 Iraqis during a joint medical assistance visit at the Al-Tameem Health Clinic here Dec. 29.

The visit incorporated medics from the brigade's 225th Forward Support Battalion; Task Force 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment; the 116th Brigade Combat Team; and Iraqi doctors and nurses.

"We're working jointly with Iraqi health care providers to empower the health care system here," said 1st Lt. James Harris, a medical platoon leader in the task force. "What this does is it gives Iraqi people confidence in their health care providers."

Harris went on to express the importance of the Iraqi people seeing their own Iraqi medical personnel treat them. "We don't want to come in here and provide the care by ourselves, because that would create a dependency on us," Harris said. "As part of rebuilding Iraq, we want them to feel confident in their whole structure, from the doctors to their health care system."

Army and Iraqi medical personnel worked side by side within each examination room to look at patients and determine proper prescriptions. "We'll do physical evaluations, diagnosis and treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, and identify significant problems for referral within the Iraqi health care system," said Maj. David Freel, a physician assistant for Company C, 225th FSB.

When a checkup was completed, the Iraqi patient received a prescription form and was directed to a makeshift pharmacy outside the clinic. "If there's any medication they require that we don't have, they can take the prescription and have it filled either in Rashad or Kirkuk," Freel said. Patients could also bring back their prescriptions for a refill at the Al-Tameem clinic when it received new supplies.

The medications provided during the visit on this day were donated by the Ministry of Health for Kirkuk and from the Kirkuk hospital. Zaid Hassin, an Iraqi man who received medical treatment and prescriptions, was grateful for the service being offered at the clinic.

"The Iraqis are suffering from a lot of diseases, but today (Army and Iraqi medics) offer very high-quality service to help the people in this area," Hassin said through an interpreter.

Because of the quality of service performed by the Iraqi medical personnel, Hassin said he thought their actions would help reassure Iraqis of the clinic's capabilities. "The Iraqi doctors did very well and helped us," Hassin said. "It is going to increase the visits for this clinic."

The visit was not only a great opportunity for ailing Iraqis to receive proper treatment, but also for medical personnel, especially from the Army, to get out into the Iraqi community and lend a helping hand. "I love working with the women, the children and being able to interact with the locals, because we're always inside the wire," said Sgt. Genevieve Powell, a combat medic with Company C, 225th FSB, who is stationed on Kirkuk Air Base.

"I personally think there needs to be more medical assistance visits," he said. "It shows trust. There's so much negativity going on in the media, so for (Iraqi people) to see that we're here trying to help them, it should open their eyes."

In the near future, a former Baath Party building will be turned into a new hospital here. The hospital will facilitate 60 surrounding villages and up to 20,000 people who currently use the Al-Tameem clinic for medical treatment.

(Army Sgt. Sean Kimmons is assigned to the 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.)

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