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Airmen Expand Hospital in Chile

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2010 – At the request of local medical officials, airmen from an Air Force expeditionary medical support team expanded the mobile hospital here March 12 to better meet the medical needs of the surrounding population.

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Chilean soldiers help airmen from an Air Force expeditionary medical support team erect a hospital tent in Angol, Chile, March 12, 2010. The additional tent will help to meet the community’s medical needs. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Chilean medical officials told Air Force team leaders they would need more surgical space and more wards than the mobile hospital would provide. The original plan included an operating room, seven beds and three critical-care beds.

Along with members of the Chilean army, U.S. airmen are expanding the hospital to two operating rooms, six critical-care beds and four wards.

"We've added a lot more capacity to adapt to what the Chileans need," said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Morgan, deputy commander of the expeditionary medical support team supporting the Chilean earthquake relief effort. "This is going to give them the [space] they need to provide the surgical care for the people in the Angol area."

When the Angol hospital was deemed structurally unsound as a result of a magnitude 8.8 earthquake Feb. 27, medical officials lost about 190 beds used for patient care. The Chilean facility potentially could add 40 more beds for patient care.

"If we can make use of 40 beds in this facility, plus the 40 we already have, we would cover more than 60 percent of the original capacity we had in our hospital," said Dr. Carlos Gonzalez, director of the hospital in Angol affected by the earthquake. "The willingness of the Air Force medical team to answer our needs has increased the capacity of the hospital and our ability to see more patients."

These expeditionary medical teams are tailored for whatever the mission needs, said Air Force Master Sgt. Joel Shepherd, setup lead for this team. "All I need … is a positive attitude and hard workers," he said. "The airmen out here are doing fantastic."

Air Force team leaders will continue to meet with local medical officials to determine how the hospital will evolve to meet the needs of the local community.

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young serves with Defense Media Activity San Antonio.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAirmen from an Air Force expeditionary medical support team, along with members of the Chilean army, prepare a tarp that will be used as a roof for a mobile hospital in Angol, Chile, March 12, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageChilean soldiers help airmen from an Air Force expeditionary medical support team erect a hospital tent in Angol, Chile, March 12, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAirmen from an Air Force expeditionary medical support team, along with members of the Chilean army, pull the roof over a mobile hospital in Angol, Chile, March 12, 2010. The Air Force team is adding an operating room and three patient wards to the facility at the request of Chilean medical officials. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca  
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