This will be a long-winded catch-up blog because it has been 2 weeks since my last entry. So much has happened yet I have been seriously slacking on updating this blog. Let me recap since I posted last…
My first trip was to the Annex Hospital which is part of NMH but approximately 7 or 8 klicks away. It consists of a psych ward, a medical hold ward, and a TB ward. After our visit, we determined that it is mostly a redundant hospital and it would be better to transfer the majority of the staff back to NMH. NMH only has 1/3 of the nurses it needs to provide adequate care to the patients.
Tuesday, 08 Sep began as a regular mentoring day at NMH until a SVBIED detonated at KAIA (Kabul Airport). I was in the OR when we got the word. We didn’t know how many patients were wounded so we made preparations for mass casualties. I had to use my outside voice to stop the surgeons from starting their scheduled elective cases. We had some heated discussions, but they finally understood when I had the General, who is the Surgical Director, come into the OR to stop the surgeons. It wasn’t a long delay because we only received 3 patients in the OR. We treated those patients, then started the day’s elective cases.
The next day was Massoud Day, which was a holiday. Because the holiday was on a Wednesday, it became a 3-day holiday. When a holiday is near jumma (Friday), the government will usually give the holiday off, then give Thursday off because Jumma is already end of the week and a non-work day. Because of the holiday, I did not go to NMH, but worked on admin all day in the office on NKC.
Thursday was my moving day. I moved out of the basement room on the A-block into a room on the second floor of the B-block with a member of my team, Dennis. The room even has a window (not one that opens) but it does allow some sunlight into the room. It is the simple things like a window that makes the deployment so much better. I can’t complain about the room accommodations. The barracks on NKC are nice. It can always be worse on a deployment…
Then I had another travel day in Kabul. I got to be the CC or Convoy Commander for this trip. We left early in the morning to drop of some folks at KAIA, then drove over to Camp Phoenix. It was September 11th, 8 years later. We attended a memorial service in the DFAC. I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when the Twin Towers were attacked and destroyed. I hope you too will always remember this day… It is one of many reasons why I am here in Afghanistan now.
After the ceremony, we spent most of the day at Phoenix waiting for our vehicles to be serviced. It is just like dropping off a vehicle at the dealer for service. We had to make an appointment, then wait around all day for the service to be completed. We made it back to NKC in the late afternoon and then attended a memorial service on our compound.
The next few days were regular mentoring days at NMH. I have many projects going at once. The Ministry of Public Health, MoPH, has developed some guidelines for all of the hospitals in Afghanistan. They are based on WHO guidelines. We are working to implement them in the OR and CSD (Central Sterilization Dept). I am also helping develop a simple spreadsheet to manage the OR schedule. We are going to try and have the surgeons book their cases 2 days prior, so the day before surgery we can put out a schedule showing the actual times of surgery. Currently, they put out a schedule the day before with only the cases booked, not the time needed. We are trying to prevent over-booking of the rooms and to force the surgeons to give us enough time between cases to properly clean the rooms and set up for the next case. This will also allow for a proper turnover of the patient for recovery. We have to slow things down inbetween cases, which in the long run will allow better patient care.
Over the weekend in the afternoon, we had to move our offices around. We had to give up 3 offices to the engineers. Since we arrived here, we have gone from 8 offices to 4. We are crammed into each office. Eventually, we will move out of the admin building into new temporary spaces once they are built on the compound.
On Tuesday, 4 of us went on a field trip to KMTC (Kabul Military Training Center) to help with physicals. The Afghans were starting a new class of recruits for their Special Forces and we went to help one of the US Mentors do physicals. They came and picked us up and brought us back. After we finished the physicals, we got a tour around KMTC. It is good to do something different for a day and see more of Kabul.
Wednesday was the Chief’s Pinning Ceremonies. Two of the folks I trained with in Fort Riley were promoted to Chief. We attended the first ceremony in the morning at Camp Eggers for one, and then the second ceremony was at NKC after lunch for the other. These are very special ceremonies and an extremely proud moment for the Chief’s who were promoted. We made sure we took the time off to attend their ceremonies. On Saturday night, we will have a dinner for the 2 Chiefs to celebrate their promotions. Chiefs all over the world are promoted on the same day. Only the Navy has the special promotion from E6 to E7.
Yesterday started out as another regular day of mentoring. We went up to NMH in the morning and returned to NKC by lunch. We were eating lunch in the office when a SVBIED went off on the road outside our compound, a little to the north. Our building actually shook. You can read all the news reports online. An Italian convoy was attacked. The last report I read online reported a total of 6 Italian soldiers killed and 10 Afghans killed with an additional 58 afghans wounded. We were not immediately allowed to go to NMH after the explosion, but did make it up there within a couple of hours. I went straight to the OR. I spent several hours there until the last person left the OR. A total of 40 patients were treated in the OR. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. Another senseless attack by the Taliban on both Coalition Forces and the local Afghan’s.
Today, Jumma, is a day to get caught up on everything including sleep and relaxation. I will try and post to this blog a little more regular…
Soviet tank graveyard near KMTC