Keeping healthy for the terror war
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti — A remote camp in northeastern Africa is the site of the Navy’s first Emergency Medical Unit.
The rapidly deployable field hospital, which moved from tents into a more permanent clinic last month, arrived Sept. 14 at Camp Lemonier.
“This little clinic has a tremendously important role,” said Navy Cmdr. Mike Hall, 45, an internal medicine specialist from Nashville, Tenn.
The Michaud Medical/Dental Clinic treats personnel at the camp and throughout the Horn of Africa region. More than 1,000 troops are based at Lemonier, the headquarters for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The task force’s region covers the total airspace and land areas of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia and the coastal waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
The next closest U.S. military clinic is an Air Force clinic in Qatar, hundreds of miles away.
Troops arrived in Djibouti in summer 2002 as part of counterterrorism operations for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Before the Navy emergency medical unit set up shop in tents in the fall, Army medics provided basic medical care. More serious cases were taken to a French military hospital in Djibouti city.
“Now, we’re prepared for any major case,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Moore, 31, leading petty officer for the operating room.
Within five days of arriving, the Navy team was treating patients. Most of the clinic’s 30 staffers are based out of naval hospitals in Jacksonville, Fla., and Charleston, S.C.
They moved last month from tents into a new aluminum building that features an intensive care/medical-surgical unit, laboratory and radiology rooms. Specialists can care for servicemembers and return them to duty without the servicemembers having to leave the theater, Hall said.
The clinic treats around 1,000 patients a month, mostly minor injuries.
Hall said the most serious case involved a Djiboutian policeman who was hit by a car while escorting VIPs. He broke every long bone in his body.
“He’s alive only because we brought him here,” Hall said.
Half of the new clinic is complete; the other half is expected to open in a few months.
The clinic was named in memory of Marine Capt. Seth Michaud, a helicopter pilot killed in a training accident June 22.