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Salerno Hospital provides world-class trauma care

 

Written by Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division PatchForward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan – “Attention on the FOB. Attention on the FOB …” These seemingly harmless words blare from an array of loud speakers and echo across Forward Operating Base Salerno, and are usually followed by code words that describe the number of patients inbound on a medical evacuation flight.

Most people continue about their daily business unaffected, but for the medical staff of the Salerno Hospital the code words mean two things: mass casualties are coming in, and it’s about to get very busy.

In the past 38 days as of July 13th, the hospital staff have responded to 39 trauma events and admitted 47 patients. They have taken nearly 600 x-rays, performed 57 surgeries, conducted 259 CT scans, and treated 56 battle-related injuries.

Staff Sgt. Judi Reeves, a surgical technician from the 344th Combat Support Hospital here, and native of Middletown, NY, carefully folds cloth over a vascular surgical tray of medical instruments before placing it into a sterilizing machine at the Salerno Hospital.  (Photo by Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division public affairs)

Staff Sgt. Judi Reeves, a surgical technician from the 344th Combat Support Hospital here, and native of Middletown, NY, carefully folds cloth over a vascular surgical tray of medical instruments before placing it into a sterilizing machine at the Salerno Hospital. (Photo by Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division public affairs)

“This is a trauma hospital,” said Lt. Col. Gregory A. Kolb, commanding officer, 344th Combat Support Hospital. “It’s not a typical hospital like we have in the U.S.  Most of our patients are trauma patients.”

Approximately 90 percent of those who arrive at Salerno Hospital do so by a medevac helicopter, and are coming to get treatment for injuries sustained in battle. “Most of the injuries we see here are from improvised explosive devices, shrapnel and gunshot wounds,” said Kolb, a native of Atlanta.

Once patients arrive, the hospital is equipped to provide the best care available. The facility has its own labs, CT scan equipment, radiology section, operating room, pharmacy and more.

“This hospital is completely on par with hospitals in the U.S.,” said Lt. Col. Paul J. Schenarts, a trauma surgeon and deputy commander of clinical services, 344th CSH.  “We don’t lack anything. We are able to get diagnostic results back very quickly here, usually within a matter of minutes.  That doesn’t happen in the states.”

Sgt. Jeffrey Harvin, a surgical technician and native of Brooklyn, NY, assigned to the 344th Combat Support Hospital here, places surgical instruments into a tray during a trauma surgery at the Salerno Hospital. (Photo by Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division public affairs)In addition to the latest equipment and technology, the hospital also has some of the most highly-trained staff available. “Our staff here is very professional and very compassionate,” said Kolb. “But, in a trauma hospital it all boils down to the quality of the surgeons, and, without a doubt, I have the best surgeons out there.”

One of those surgeons is Schenarts, a reservist, who brings a wealth of knowledge and medical expertise with him. He is a professor of surgery and critical care, as well as the assistant dean for clinical academic affairs at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.

“To work here, you need your funny bone, your back bone and your brain bone,” he said. “I feel like it’s not only my duty, but an honor for me to be able to do this. Being able to provide critical care to Soldiers is really wonderful.”

Although their main focus is saving Soldiers’ lives, the hospital also treats contractors, coalition forces, detainees, Afghan National Security Forces and local nationals on a case-by-case basis.

Recently, they treated several civilians who had been the target of an insurgent ambush and massacre that claimed 12 lives. One of the survivors was very happy to be treated by the hospital staff.

Lt. Col. Paul Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon assigned to the 344th Combat Support Hospital here, performs surgery on a 14-year-old local Afghan boy who sustained a gunshot wound to his arm.  Phillips, a native of Arlington, Texas, is one of four surgeons at the Salerno Hospital. (Photo by Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division public affairs)

Lt. Col. Paul Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon assigned to the 344th Combat Support Hospital here, performs surgery on a 14-year-old local Afghan boy who sustained a gunshot wound to his arm. Phillips, a native of Arlington, Texas, is one of four surgeons at the Salerno Hospital. (Photo by Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division public affairs)

“I thank the ISAF forces so much,” said Gula Gha, a 28-year-old Pakistan native from Parachinar District, Pakistan. “If it was not for their help, I would have died. I had lost a lot of blood, but the American doctors saved my life. I will never forget them.”

With the combination of both the latest technology and highly-skilled medical staff, Soldiers can rest assured they will receive the best care available if they find themselves at the CSH.

“This is a great hospital with a great staff,” said Schenarts. “We provide excellent, quality care, and we treat the best patients in the world … the Soldiers.”


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