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NEWS | July 8, 2008

Maternity hospital set to open doors

By Erich Langer , Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Thanks to an improved security situation, al Karkh Maternity now accepts deliveries of expensive medical equipment and supplies that were secretly stored off-site. The Army Corps of Engineers recently completed nearly 0,000 in essential repairs at the hospital.
Thanks to an improved security situation, al Karkh Maternity now accepts deliveries of expensive medical equipment and supplies that were secretly stored off-site. The Army Corps of Engineers recently completed nearly 0,000 in essential repairs at the hospital.

BAGHDAD (July 8, 2008) — Al Karkh Maternity Hospital, located in the Karkh district of western Baghdad, recently received two large truckloads of much needed medical equipment — deliveries that will speed the opening of the hospital for hundreds of expecting mothers.

Nearly $600,000 was dedicated to the U.S.-funded refurbishment project, allowing for sorely needed repairs to a hospital that received no upgrades and little maintenance from the Saddam regime.  In fact, no new hospitals had been completed in Iraq since the mid-1980s.

“To date, GRD has completed 21 renovations at 18 hospitals across Iraq that will treat 15,000 patients per day,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffery Dorko, Gulf Region Division commander. “Also, working with our Government of Iraq partners, we have constructed 113 of 132 new Primary Healthcare Centers that will treat 8,000 Iraqis each day. We still have more to achieve in helping provide health care to Iraqis, but we are making great strides in this important area.”

The improving security situation is paying dividends as GRD and its contractors complete more and more construction projects.  Dr. Eman A. Atta, Karkh’s manager and hospital administrator, worked at Karkh Maternity for only six-months, but has seen Baghdad and the neighborhood around the hospital improve dramatically.

“The security situation has improved greatly,” said Atta. “It was very, very bad here for so long. So bad that I refused delivery of vital medical equipment until it was safe from those who would rob and steel from the hospital.”

Dr. Atta was painfully aware of the poor security situation after one large delivery of expensive diagnostic equipment that included x-ray machines and other high-end medical equipment was hijacked.

“Stolen before it ever made it to the hospital,” she said with anger and frustration in her voice.  “To keep this from happening again, Dr. Emad Sabry and I arranged to store the equipment in various secret locations around Baghdad until security improved.”

Iraqi Army Maj. Hussain is in charge of security at Karkh and the area around the hospital and echoes Atta’s reflection of security in the neighborhood.

“It has gotten better, it is much safer here. My Soldiers are always watching for any danger that would come to the hospital and its patients.”

“We hope to open the hospital to inpatient care, surgeries and deliveries within two months,” said Dr. Emad Sabry, an anesthesiologist and one of Karkh’s ten senior physicians.  “The hospital still needs additional equipment – all types, from beds to incubators and most importantly the pharmaceuticals. The Ministry of Health has promised to provide these required items.” 

  The  renovation construction included replacing the HVAC system, mechanical system (boilers), electrical, structural, reverse osmosis water purification system, new medical waste incinerator, medical gases center, nurse call system, data communication network, TV system, elevator upgrade, and fire alarm with a fire fighting extinguishing system.