An Iraqi dentist numbs a young Iraqi man's gum prior to removing a decaying tooth from his mouth during a combined medical engagement in Rathwaniyah, just on the outskirts of Baghdad, Nov. 8, 2008. Photo by Sgt. James Hunter.
— When Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, first arrived in Iraq in November 2007 they had many things in mind to help better the lives of the local Iraqi citizens in Rathwaniyah, just on the outskirts of Baghdad.
One of their main focuses would be to help aid many of Iraqis ailing from an assortment of illnesses. The only problem they faced was there was no local medical clinic in the area available to the Iraqi citizens.
It would become their mission to help establish a medical facility available to all Iraqis within Rathwaniyah.
“Originally, about a year ago, we came here and there was no clinic established. There were a couple of schools in the area. It’s a farm area, very rural that has some sectarian division,” said Capt. Jerry Braverman, a physician assistant with the 1st Bn., 320th FA Regt. “When we got here our mission was to establish this new clinic next to the school and try to set Dr. Abass up for success to be able to independently work free of Ministry of Health, with the long term goal of getting Ministry of Health doctors and nurses to come out here and assist with the care for the area.”
In the meantime, while constructing this facility, the troops pushed out into the area and held six combined medical engagements, working side-by-side with local Iraqi physicians to treat these ailing Iraqis.
They held their last medical operation in Rathwaniyah, Nov. 8, 2008, and were able to treat approximately 350 Iraqis in the recently constructed medical facility.
Over the course of the day, they were able to treat a variety of illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, sore throats, skin rashes, muscle aches and asthma, said Braverman. They were even able to take care of a few minor tooth problems.
This medical engagement was also an opportunity for the Soldier’s replacements from the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, to finally meet these physicians and see first hand the problems many of these Iraqis face medically.
Capt. Quintin Treadway, a physician assistant with the 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., is looking forward to the next year and engaging many of Iraqi physicians in the area.
He wants to continue these medical engagements, because, “I think it engenders a lot of trust within the local people as they see us out there to help them, and I think it’s the most visible and hands on way of engendering that trust because we are actually placing hands-on to heal someone. Medical helps develop report with the local population.”
One of his main focuses will be to get the Ministry of Health more involved with the clinic whether its them providing new equipment, doctors and nurses, or supplies, because the clinic plays a vital role within this community.
The clinic, which Braverman describes as one of the best facilities in the area, is treating many Iraqis on daily basis, somewhere between eight and 12 on average.