Bagram gets bigger, better hospital
The U.S. military has opened a state-of-the-art combat hospital at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.
Named the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, the facility was opened Sunday and offers “patients a whole new level of care, and doctors a new level of technology with which to work,” according to a military news release.
The facility is named for Army Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig, a medic killed June 21, 2006.
Craig, who was assigned to the Wiesbaden, Germany-based 159th Air Ambulance Medical Company, died when a UH-60 helicopter hoist malfunctioned near Naray, Afghanistan.
Craig, 28, “was holding desperately to a patient as they were both being hoisted from a ridgeline by a Black Hawk helicopter,” an official narrative reads. “Halfway to the chopper, the line snapped, and Craig and his patient fell to their deaths.”
Servicemembers with Task Force Med at the base transferred some 23 patients to the new hospital from the old one, also on Bagram, officials said.
“We’re officially open over there,” Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Claude Hawkins, medical chief of staff, was quoted as saying. “Our emergency room stood up at 6 o’clock, so that’s where we’re now taking emergency patients.”
According to officials, the hospital has 50 beds — twice as many as the older facility — along with a new trauma bay, three operating rooms and a new dental clinic. If necessary, it can be expanded further in coming years.
Military personnel said one of the biggest advantages was a more sterile environment than the previous facility.
“We seldom closed our wounds immediately. We used a lot of new techniques in wound care, and U.S. soldiers were sent out to other facilities when the chance of infection was increased,” said Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Clifford Perez, the Task Force Med general surgeon.