KABUL, Afghanistan, –
Kabul National Military Hospital is primed to emerge from a recent tragic attack as a state-of-the-art facility for patient care, continuing a long legacy as the biggest and finest military hospital in service of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
Afghan military officials, with full support from the president of Afghanistan and NATO coalition forces, are determined to rebuild the hospital, to include new and advanced capabilities in the aftermath of the attacks this month.
“No matter what happens and how we are tested, we stand next to our soldiers. This is our chance to improve this hospital and to deliver unprecedented capabilities for medical care. We are focused and determined. Our response is one, to take action,” said Dr. Hamid Rahman, director of the Construction Property Management Department at the Afghan Ministry of Defense. “We have high morale. Our soldiers have high morale. This is a better and stronger us.”
On March 8, a group of terrorist gunmen disguised as doctors attacked the hospital, killing at least 49 patients, doctors and guards, and injuring more than 60 others. The attack on defenseless patients and medical personnel was widely condemned by Afghan leaders and throughout the international community.
This week, Rahman toured the hospital alongside an engineer advisory team from Resolute Support to assess the status of ongoing engineering projects, determine coalition support, and identify train, advise and assist opportunities for long-term needs. He said the results of the visit were reassuring.
“Everything we saw exceeded our expectations. They have executed on their own capabilities and began rebuilding without our help. Their incredibly fast response avoided an otherwise lethargic process of recovery, not to mention further deterring long-term needs,” stated Dr. Russell Davis, director of Infrastructure Training and Advisory Team, Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan.
In the wake of the incident and within the context of a challenging situation, Afghan leaders emerged to make in-the-moment decisions that accelerated the progress of repair work. Afghan officials leveraged resources from their government to begin work on hospital repairs and upgrades immediately, Davis explained.
“We began the improvements right away. The cleanup was completed by the end of the night and by morning we had people already committed and working at full speed fixing walls, replacing windows and glasses, painting, and running estimates,” Rahman said.
“As the reconstruction plan continues, the hospital is scheduled to upgrade existing capabilities to add new and renovated facilities including a pediatric and women wellness center, a trauma center, rehabilitation facility, vehicle maintenance shop, and improved entry control points,” explained Maj. Ajyman Johnson, CSTC-A program manager for the Afghan National Army.
Another hallmark of the initial recovery was the immediate life-saving actions taken by the Afghan medical command leadership. They safely transported more than 100 patients to four nearby hospitals and were able to restore normal medical care within a week of the attack.
“The prompt actions of the Afghan engineers performing initial restoration allowed the hospital to re-open within one week, taking in 97 patients and having both the operating rooms and intensive care unit at 100 percent capability,” said Thomas A. Lockhart, executive director of CSTC-A’s office of sustainment, known as EF-5.
NATO’s Resolute Support forces and CSTC-A have determined KMH to be a facility of national importance, as it provides medical care to those protecting the nation. Accordingly, international forces have committed over $2.7 million in medical equipment and emergency support, said Col. Stephanie Buffett, RS medical advisor and medical sustainment director.
“This is a facility which provides care to more than 60 people on each floor. Our doctors are doing their jobs as we fix and make our hospital even better. We were determined to fight and we have proven how good we are,” stated Capt. Abbas Rahmani, deputy of facility engineering department for the Afghan National Army.