Soldiers, Iraqi Doctors Provide Medical Care to Baghdad Residents
By Army Sgt. James Hunter
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Aug. 1, 2008 Many families in Iraq have a variety of ailments due to malnutrition and lack of potable water and basic care.
With Army Staff Sgt. Jason Torres, a native of Miami, looking on, Dr. Yousif Yousif examines the face of an Iraqi girl who is experiencing swelling in her face during a medical operation in Baghdad's Iraqi Family Village, July 26, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Hunter, Multinational Division Baghdad
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
It is no different in Baghdad’s Iraqi Family Village, where residents suffer from a myriad of illnesses. Among other ailments, Iraqis suffer from high-blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; however, these medical conditions are treatable.
To help the men, women and children of the Iraqi Family Village, Iraqi doctors and soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, held a medical operation July 26.
The Iraqi Family Village doesn’t have a medical clinic to meet its residents’ everyday medicinal needs. Medical operations such as this afford them the basic medical care needed to improve their quality of life, officials said.
One elderly Iraqi woman, trembling in pain, came in complaining of swelling in her legs. She mentioned she had been diagnosed with diabetes. Army Capt. Jerry Braverman, a native of Roseburg, Ore., examined her legs and feet.
“It’s very important she elevates her feet,” he said to an interpreter. He suggested she elevate her feet nightly, followed by wrapping them in a bandage. Fluid is building in her legs, he explained, and to help combat that problem he offered her a diuretic.
Army Staff Sgt. Jason Torres, a Miami native, examined a woman in her late 20s. She lifted the sleeve on her right arm, revealing second- and third-degree burns.
“[The burns] looked like they were a week and a half old. It looked like a small infection had begun,” said Torres, who’s assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment.
Torres scraped away as much dead skin on the burn as he could. He then finished cleaning the wound and placed bandages on the burn. He gave the woman some antibiotics and instructed her to keep the burn clean and see a burn specialist as soon as possible.
Torres said he has seen four burn patients during his time patrolling the village. It’s quite simple to treat a burn patient, he said, but treating a burn quickly is a necessity.
“The main thing you are trying to prevent on a burn is infection or any type of external debris sticking to it,” he said. “The best thing to do is put dry, sterile gauze on the wound.”
Weeks earlier, Torres treated a 2-year old child who had burns to the right side of her neck, right arm and 75 percent of her leg. Her right foot had third-degree burns, with the skin barely clinging on.
It was a tough case for Torres, who is the father of a little girl. “I just don’t like seeing little kids in pain,” he said. “They are innocent. It makes you feel helpless.”
But helpless is not what they are in the eyes of those Iraqis receiving the treatment.
The soldiers were able to treat 423 people, supplying many with antibiotics, burn ointment, pain relievers, asthma medications, multi-vitamins and penicillin.
Dr. Yousif Yousif, who earned his degree at Baghdad University, left for the United States 12 years ago, but said he felt compelled to come back to his birth nation and help his fellow Iraqis.
“I came back because I got a job here to help both the Iraqis and Americans supporting the war on terrorism,” he said. “It’s always good to help the Iraqis, to know what’s going on and what they are going through.”
He came across many Iraqis who don’t have basic medical care or the money to see doctors.
“We just help to the best of our abilities,” Yousif said. “We are dealing with very basic medications here, but we are helping at least 60 to 70 percent of the population.”
There were very few patients the team wasn’t able to fully help, the doctor said.
“Basically what we try to do is give them our advice if we can’t treat them here -- go see a specialist,” he explained. “Others we give medication, especially for those who haven’t seen a doctor in years and don’t have access to medical care. When they get the antibiotics and painkillers, I think, it will be great for them in the long run.”
At the end of the day, the medics and physicians left Iraqi Family Village with a feeling of satisfaction.
“For me, there is no greater reward to be able to help somebody, put a smile on somebody’s face,” Torres said.
(Army Sgt. James Hunter serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)