News: Health Services
Story by Pvt. Luke Rollins
FORT POLK, La. — Capt. Jeb Andrus, a brigade dental surgeon with the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, waits in his dentist chair next to a tray of unused tools still wrapped in their original packaging. It is 9 a.m.; the hours for dental sick call have begun and will last until 11 a.m.
His dental clinic is part of a level two tactical medical center tucked away in the back corner of the 202nd Brigade Support Battalion's area of Forward Operating Base Forge at the Joint Readiness Training Center.
A behavioral health service clinic completes the health care facilities attached to the Raider Brigade for its upcoming deployment to Iraq. The 202nd BSB is conducting training operations at JRTC to ensure its ability to support the Raider Brigade downrange.
Each angle of health care has its own preparation mission it must accomplish at JRTC. Andrus said in his clinic there's not much to prepare aside from setting up and laying out his equipment.
"For dental, we're pretty much good to go," he said. "When we go to the field or when we deploy, it's a little bit different [than in garrison]. We're going to be doing emergency-type treatment."
Spc. Cindy King, a bio-medical engineer technician, is a little bit busier. She works in a small office space separated from Andrus's work space by large stacked crates. While Andrus waits in his chair, she scurries between different pieces of medical equipment, working fast to fix them.
"I do medical maintenance for the whole brigade," said King. "I do dental equipment, I do the aid station, I do all of it."
King said because of her busy schedule, she's missed out on out a lot of the Soldier training that goes on at JRTC. However, she said she still enjoys solving technical problems for all the health-related equipment.
"It's like a puzzle that you have to figure out, so that's fun," she said.
Directly across from the dental clinic is the 202nd BSB Tactical Medical Center, which houses an aid station as well as X-ray machines and lab equipment.
Sgt. Natalie Dalimata, the aid station shift leader, said at the 202nd BSB troop medical clinic, they provide a higher level of treatment than the battalion-level TMCs.
"We're pretty much who [the soldiers] see before we evacuate them to a higher echelon," she said.
Morning sick call hours are 8-10 a.m. and afternoon sick call hours are from 3-5 p.m.
While at JRTC, Dalimata said that the medical team has been training constantly in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
"We've been having classes pretty much non-stop, training up on equipment we're going to have in Iraq. Just seeing what works, and what doesn't," she said.
Capt. Michelle Tsai, the brigade behavioral health officer, works in a small wooden shed on the top of hill about a quarter-mile past the 202nd BSB's battalion area.
"We have to do a lot of consultation work. So we're also working with commanders and first sergeants and helping them with whatever issues they may encounter related to behavioral health," said Tsai.
She also does personality assessments and provides therapy for troubled Soldiers. Morning walk-in hours for the behavioral health services clinic are 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Afternoon walk-in hours are 1:30 - 4:30 p.m., every Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
Back at the dental clinic, sick call hours have ended, and Andrus' instruments never left the packaging. However, he said he knows the time will come when his skills will help put a Soldier back onto the battlefield.
"We had one just the other day where the [Soldier] had a very large abscess," he said. "We went ahead and drained it, got the treatment for him, and got him back out there."
Routine stuff, said Andrus.
A routine that is necessary to the success of the Raider Brigade's mission, said King.
"[Soldiers] need the medics to take care of them...so that they can go out and kick down the doors and do the things that they have to do," said King. "I feel that my job is extremely important, to give the doctors the tools they need to assess the injured Soldiers. And that's what it's all about, right?"