CAMP SHORABAK, AFGHANISTAN, Aug. 11, 2017 —
The Afghan National Army 215th Corps Hospital at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan is quickly becoming one of the best military hospitals in the nation.
Consisting of approximately 75 personnel including surgeons, physician assistants and medics, the facility’s staffing shortfalls are compensated by their dedication to care for wounded 215th Corps soldiers across Helmand Province.
“My team is full of good people who work really hard,” said ANA Brig. Gen. Hussaingul Paknihad, the Helmand Regional Medical Commander. “When we have a lot of patients, they are able to take care of them all.”
Recent operations such as Maiwand Three and Maiwand Four have tested the hospital’s ability to take care of large numbers of patients, but time and time again, the staff ensures the injured are given the proper treatment.
"They are exceptionally competent. In my observation, they perform surgeries in a very professional manner and their skill in the operating room is comparable to what I have seen in other operating rooms," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Michael Mercado, the Task Force Southwest surgeon and lead medical advisor. “These guys work hard. The patients are the work, and when they show up… they respond in a timely manner.”
President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani awarded the Medal of Excellence to the facility during a recent visit to 215th Corps facilities. In 2016, the hospital completed approximately 1,800 surgeries and evacuated approximately 700 soldiers who were killed in action to their families. Only two other hospitals, both based in the Kabul area, received the distinction.
“Normally we have a lot of patients in the hospital and we can take care of all of them. My team and I are working hard together and without them I could not do anything,” said ANA Maj. Mohammed Kareem, a trauma surgeon at the hospital. “I enjoy providing treatment and saving lives.”
“The president felt that because they were continuing to care for the soldiers despite their shortfalls, and that the outcomes have been excellent, was why they received the medal,” said Mercado.
The 215th Corps Hospital staff understand that the more effective the treatment, soldiers will have more confidence knowing they will be treated in case of injuries sustained on the battlefield.
“When we have good facilities and get supplies to the soldiers, it means our soldiers will be motivated to fight against the enemy, and if our soldiers are healthy, it means they can fight the enemy,” said ANA Col. Hamayoon Jabarkhil, the 215th Corps surgeon.
An understated factor in the hospital’s ability to effectively care for its patients is the resilient sense of loyalty to the nation and the war against insurgency.
“I am an Afghan, and this is my country. I’m proud that I’m working in Helmand, and that we have the ability to take care of casualties,” said Paknihad. “Every week I explain to my staff that this is our country – we have to work for our country and our people.”
On Aug. 9, 2017, several medical personnel from the hospital joined Mercado and U.S. Army soldiers with 2nd Forward Surgical Team, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. The motif continues to be enhancing the Afghans surgical and treatment skills to further develop the hospital’s capabilities.
“I… have been overwhelmingly surprised at how skilled they are at what they do. What [I’m helping to do] is to partner with corps medical leaders in building the confidence of the ANA and other Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in the care this hospital provides. They should know that they will get the highest quality of care possible,” said Mercado. “When they have confidence, they’re going to go into the fight knowing that if they’re hurt, they’re going to be taken care of. I hope that builds over time."