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Published:July 24th, 2006 05:45 EST
Panjshir PRT medics visit remote Afghan district

Panjshir PRT medics visit remote Afghan district

By Joe Campbell

PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan " Patients walked as far as six miles and waited as long as eight hours for treatment by Air Force medics from the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team who visited the Paryan District July 15 " 16.

The Medical Civic Action Program, or MEDCAP, was coordinated at the invitation of Panjshir Director of Health Dr. Jellani and the Paryan District police chief provided officers for escort and security for the event.

At nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, Paryan is the Northernmost and has the highest elevation of the six districts in the Panjshir Valley. Due to the rough and narrow road, it took the team 5 ½ hours to reach the district from their headquarters in Bazarak.

We saw the dire need in Paryan when we were here recently to do site evaluations and humanitarian assistance drop planning, " said Major Kurt Workmaster, Panjshir PRT physician assistant. He is a reservist deployed from Duke Field in Florida.

Paryan only has one physician at its Basic Health Clinic along with two nurses and one midwife for the district`s 38,000 residents.

On the previous visit, I saw 70 patients in one day out of the back of a traveling vehicle and one of the clearest lessons I got out of that experience was this is not the way to go, " Major Workmaster said.

For the most recent mini-MEDCAP, the team set up at a private residence in a remote village to reach those who were hampered by the distance to the clinic. They treated women and children in the morning and men in the afternoon.

With the help of our interpreters, we had one medic screen, triage, and collect patient vital signs while the other two performed ordered procedures and filled prescriptions, " said Senior Airman Conan Broyles, Panjshir PRT medic from Barksdale AFB, LA.

The medics prepared for family medicine versus emergency medicine, a lesson they had learned on previous MEDCAPs. They set up their prescription kit accordingly.

We mostly treated patients for arthritis, acid reflux, congestion and skin and eye irritations, " said Tech. Sgt. Charles Campbell, Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of medics.

Sergeant Campbell is deployed from Tyndall AFB, FL. He added that some conditions needed further evaluation and the medics explained this to the patient or parent and often provided a note to assist with the referral.

The team saw more than 200 patients who were grateful for the visit. The medics were equally moved by the Afghans` consideration of their well-being.

A woman told me she prayed for the safety of the Americans every night and she had a dream that an American doctor was coming to the village, " said Shahla Hammond, Panjshir PRT interpreter. That was very touching to all of us. "