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Airmen expand local hospital to meet Chileans' medical needs

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
At the request of local medical officials, Airmen from an Air Force Expeditionary Medical Support team expanded the mobile hospital here March 12 to better meet the medical needs of the population surrounding Angol.

During a meeting between Air Force EMEDS team leaders, local Chilean medical officials said they would need more surgical space and more wards than the EMEDS +10 hospital would provide. The original EMEDS +10 hospital plan included one operating room, seven beds and three critical-care beds.

Airmen, along with members of the Chilean army, are doubling the number of operating wards and quadrupling the number of patient wards at the EMEDS hospital. With the modifications, the hospital will be expanded to two operating rooms, six critical-care beds and four wards.

"We've added a lot more capacity to adapt to what the Chileans' need," said Lt. Col. Christopher Morgan, the deputy commander of the EMEDS team supporting the Chilean earthquake relief effort. "This is going to give them the (space) they need to provide the surgical care for the people in the Angol area."

When the local hospital in Angol was deemed structurally unsound as a result of an 8.8-magnitude earthquake Feb. 27, local medical officials lost about 190 beds used for patient care. The Chilean facility could potentially add 40 more beds for patient care.

"If we can make use of 40 beds in this facility, plus the 40 we already have, we would cover more than 60 percent of the original capacity we had in our hospital," said Dr. Carlos Gonzalez, the director of the local hospital in Angol affected by the earthquake. "The willingness of the Air Force medical team to answer our needs has increased the capacity of the hospital and our ability to see more patients."

These EMEDS are built to be tailored for whatever the mission needs, said Master Sgt. Joel Shepherd, the EMEDS setup lead.

"All I need to get this EMEDS set up is a positive attitude and hard workers," he said. "The Airmen out here are doing fantastic."

Air Force EMEDS leaders will continue to meet with local medical officials to determine how the hospital will evolve to meet the needs of the local community.

"To see all this (constructed) for this (mobile) hospital (it puts us at ease), because it's going to help us take care of Angol citizens," Doctor Gonzalez said.