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U.S. Air Force Capt. Todd Tarner, a physican assistant with the Asadabad provincial reconstruction team, enters the Asadabad Central Hospital’s pharmacy Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Todd Tarner, a physican assistant with the Asadabad provincial reconstruction team, enters the Asadabad Central Hospital’s pharmacy Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan. (Steve Mraz / S&S)
U.S. Air Force Capt. Todd Tarner, a physican assistant with the Asadabad provincial reconstruction team, enters the Asadabad Central Hospital’s pharmacy Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Todd Tarner, a physican assistant with the Asadabad provincial reconstruction team, enters the Asadabad Central Hospital’s pharmacy Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan. (Steve Mraz / S&S)
Capt. Todd Tarner, center, speaks with the director of the Asadabad Central Hospital Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan. The provincial reconstruction team performed a preliminary evaluation of potential improvements for the hospital.
Capt. Todd Tarner, center, speaks with the director of the Asadabad Central Hospital Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan. The provincial reconstruction team performed a preliminary evaluation of potential improvements for the hospital. (Steve Mraz / S&S)
Capt. Todd Tarner, right, talks with doctors at the hospital Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan.
Capt. Todd Tarner, right, talks with doctors at the hospital Wednesday afternoon in Afghanistan. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — Members of the Asadabad provincial reconstruction team met with Asadabad Central Hospital officials last week in the eastern Afghanistan town to perform a preliminary evaluation of potential improvements to the hospital.

The convoy originally departed Forward Operating Base Asadabad on Wednesday morning, but the mission was delayed when one of the Humvees traveling in the convoy broke down. A crane lifted the disabled vehicle in the back of an Afghan truck, and the convoy headed back to the base to regroup. After lunch, the convoy was back on the road and headed to the hospital.

Once inside the 40-bed hospital, Air Force Capt. Todd Tarner, a physician’s assistant attached to the Asadabad provincial reconstruction team, spoke with the facility’s director. Provincial reconstruction teams throughout Afghanistan identify local projects worth funding and then work to get the projects funded.

Tarner asked the director a series of questions during their discussion. “If you had to look at the top three needs of the facility, what would they be?” Tarner asked.

The director, speaking mainly through an interpreter, told Tarner that having space for additional beds, acquiring an ambulance and getting more medical equipment were the top three needs.

When asked, the director mentioned to Tarner that most of the ailments the hospital treats are broken legs from people who tumble down the area’s steep mountains, injuries stemming from mine explosions and infectious diseases. The hospital, which has one X-ray machine and a small emergency room, sees between 600 and 700 cases of tuberculosis a year, the director said.

Since coalition forces ousted the Taliban in 2001, the hospital has improved, the director said.

At the end of their talk, Tarner told the director he would do what he could to improve the hospital, which treats residents from the Kunar and Nuristan provinces. “I cannot promise anything, but will try through U.S. AID, my commander and Bagram (Air Field officials),” said Tarner, 39, of Chambersburg, Pa. “I’m here to help. That’s my job.”

The director said he would compile a list of needs of the hospital and submit it to officials in Bagram.

Airmen and soldiers with the PRT were then treated to a tour of the hospital. They saw a patient whose left leg was amputated after an explosion during Afghanistan’s parliamentary and provincial council elections Sept. 18. They also visited the maternity ward where a pregnant woman was thought to have appendicitis.

If the hospital had the right equipment, doctors there would know how to treat the woman, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Shannon Walker, a licensed practical nurse with the PRT.

“They have the basic concepts,” she said. “A lot of the problem is just they don’t have the equipment. They’re just lacking the resources, and hopefully we’ll be able to help them with that.”

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