The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 05, 2014

14th Combat Support Hospital deploys to Fort Stewart

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Soldiers from the 14th Combat Support Hospital deployed a mobile operating room to Fort Stewart, Ga., earlier this week to alleviate the backlog of surgical cases at Winn Army Community Hospital.

“The backlog was caused by ongoing construction,” said Maj. John Tsai, Winn ACH Chief of General Surgery. “Many of the sections within the hospital are undergoing renovations including our entire OR suite, and unfortunately we are not physically capable of utilizing three of our six operating rooms during the process.”

Hospital Commander Col. Kirk W. Eggleston said he and his deputy commanders began brainstorming ideas to mitigate the impact of decreased OR space last fall when construction began.

“A couple things came up that seemed reasonable,” said Eggleston. “One was a partnership with Liberty Regional Medical Center here in town. They were receptive to the idea and we’ve been doing cases there two days a week since January. The other idea was to bring a combat support hospital to Fort Stewart. We did some research and found that other military treatment facilities had done something similar. Once we knew there was a precedent, we reached out to the 14th CSH and began coordinating.”

That coordination was done during weekly meetings to determine location, staffing, equipment, and logistical needs of the 14th CSH. Each surgical case was also reviewed to identify patients who met the qualifications of being seen in the mobile OR.

“We’ve selected patients based on the type of procedure they need, as well as their overall general health,” said Tsai. “It’s restricted to same-day procedures and it’s also restricted to active-duty military personnel. Family members and retirees will not be seen in the mobile OR.”

The commander of the 14th CSH, Col. Paula C. Lodi, said she is excited about the opportunity to partner with Winn ACH, especially since it provides her Soldiers with real-world training.

“The 14th CSH returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan last summer, but they did not deploy with the surgical suite,” said Lodi. “However, this equipment was used when they deployed in support of Hurricane Katrina relief in 2005. That was the last time it was deployed for real-world contingency operations. The 14th CSH will assume responsibly for severe weather response in June so this is actually very good for us to take our deployable equipment and have the opportunity to work with it in conjunction with a fixed facility because it’s very realistic of something we would have to do in the event of another hurricane response effort.” Lodi wants to assure patients and their Families that the standard of care in the mobile OR is no different than it is in a traditional operating room.

“Over the course of the past 12 years this equipment has been proven effective in much more austere environments,” she said. “These Soldiers have done a phenomenal job taking care of our injured Soldiers down range and they’ve had some realistic opportunities both in Iraq and Afghanistan to sharpen their skills. I’m excited for my team’s ability to showcase what they can do, and for the opportunity to validate our capability of providing the same standard of care using deployable equipment.”

Eggleston agrees and added that the equipment will meet the same standards and requirements set forth by The Joint Commission.

“Our Soldiers conduct fairly significant procedures in mobile ORs down range so they have literally been battle tested,” he said. “They are outstanding. We validated them as far as infection control and air exchange, and we will continue to test them just like we do any operating room inside the building. They are absolutely no different. If we can use these to save lives down range then there’s no reason we can’t use them here at Fort Stewart, Georgia.”

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