FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – Iraqi doctors at the Karama Hospital in Kut discussed surgery procedures and techniques with members of the 848th Forward Surgical Team March 5.
The visit was part of Operation Gunner Med, a joint medical civil-military operation between the Wasit director general of health and the 41st Fires Brigade, designed to restore medical capabilities in Wasit and bring medical care up to the regional health care standard.
Five different Iraqi doctors presented their cases to the U.S. team, shared how they conducted their surgeries and discussed the issues they face at the Karama Hospital.
"Our problem here is the tools," said Dr. Dhafer, a general surgeon at the hospital. "If you give us the tools, then we can do our job."
The equipment and instruments the doctors use at the Karama Hospital are out of date and they do not have the supplies needed to perform surgeries the same way as in the United States, according to Dhafer.
"They are doing the best they can," said Lt. Col. Sue Springer, certified registered nurse anesthetist, 848th FST. "They are using sutures and supplies in such modification that it could impact the health care of the patient, but they are trying their best."
Administration and admittance procedures are also a problem at the hospital, said Dhafer.
"Some staff do not coordinate with us, such as the emergency room staff, and they do not know how to prioritize the patients," said Dhafer.
The 848th FST cannot supply the doctors with the medical equipment they need, but they can help to train their medical staff on prioritization of patients, said Lt. Col. Paul Perlik, orthopedic surgeon, 848th FST.
"We have to figure out some way to give them a leg up to help their system, without doing it for them," said Perlik. "I am going to recommend that we continue this effort and work at the lower level in training the support personnel and also set up a program where the doctors can come to the Forward Operating Base and do elective surgeries here so they can have access to equipment and continue to share their knowledge with us."