☷Michigan team saves a life while mentoring Liberian partners
National Guard ( By Press Release office)
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MONROVIA , Liberia – The man was dead . “He completely flatlined for a little over two minutes , ” said U . S . Army Capt . Matthew Gomberg , a battalion physician assistant assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company , 3rd Battalion , 126th Infantry Regiment , Michigan National Guard . “Without the emergency medical team’s intervention , the patient would have certainly passed away . ”Gomberg’s medical team visited the hospital as part of Michigan’s State Partnership Program with Liberia . MING began working with the Armed Forces of Liberia in November 2009 , assisting the country with its medical response to infectious disease , engineering support and exchange of military best practices . The SPP is unique in that it links a state’s National Guard with the military forces of another country in a mutually beneficial partnership . Although many previous engagements involved sharing of military best practices , this weeklong visit April 25 - 29 focused on advancing the capabilities of Liberia’s new 14 Military Hospital . The visit could not have come at a more opportune time for one man . A 72 - year - old man was admitted to 14 Military Hospital April 25 , complaining of chest pains . After monitoring his heart with the hospital’s new electrocardiogram , emergency room personnel immediately knew the man was in critical condition . “The EKG indicated he had a potentially lethal cardiac arrhythmia , ” Gomberg said . The medics attempted treatment with medication , but his condition continued to destabilize . And then his heart stopped . “We immediately administered CPR , ” said Gomberg . “We managed to get his pulse back after he died , but he still had an unstable rhythm . At that point , he was defibrillated and a normal heart rhythm was restored . ”The man was kept in the hospital overnight for observation and tests , but the following day he was alert and released . The cardiac resuscitation on the first day of the Michigan medical team’s visit was the first performed at the hospital . For the rest of the week , Michigan Air and Army National Guard members provided mentorship and assessed medical and administrative capabilities . Along with the lifesaving intervention in the ER , activities included orthopedic surgeries , hands - on suture training and assistance in the newborn intensive care unit . U . S . Army Staff Sgt . James Dewitt and Sgt . Gustavo Pop Monroy , combat medics also assigned to 3 - 126th IN , mentored the staff responding to adult and pediatric emergencies . Joining the team was U . S . Army 1st Lt . Michael Bearup , executive officer for the 1171st Medical Company Area Support , 146th Medical Battalion , who assessed the ER , finance , human resources , triage operations , and pharmaceutical and supply requests . “It was ideal timing that our team was going over EKG and heart monitoring on Day One , ” said Bearup . “Because two of the first few patients we saw in the ER had major heart issues . ”Along with their Army counterparts , U . S . Air Force 1st Lt . Hannah MacDonald , Medical Service Corps , and Master Sgt . Kristal Avila , health systems technician with 110th Medical Group , both assigned to the 110th Air Wing , provided guidance on numerous functional areas . “We’re sending three medical teams to work closely with Liberian partners over a six - week period this summer , ” said MacDonald . “Our current visit will tell us which areas need the most focus at the hospital . ”She said health care administration and nursing leadership will be key areas for development at the country’s first military hospital . MacDonald said she was amazed at the progress since her last visit when the hospital opened in September . Avila agreed . “This has been an amazing experience , ” said Avila . “My favorite part was working with the young moms and infants in the children’s malnutrition program . ”Dr . Kevin Strathy , a retired American plastic and reconstructive surgeon , and his wife , Natu , a native - born Liberian nurse , serve as medical consultants at the hospital . They started a medical nonprofit to attain donations of supplies and equipment . Natu , who received medical training in England , mentors the nursing staff . Her focus is on making each section of the hospital more efficient and developing additional capabilities , such as introducing a burn victim unit . Strathy teamed with Gomberg to lead suture courses during the medical exchange . They emphasized wearing gloves and properly closing wounds to prevent infection — an important practice where antibiotics are in short supply . U . S . Army Maj . Jason Everts , MING’s bilateral affairs officer to AFRICOM based in Liberia , said the Michigan Guard collaborates with U . S . African Command , the U . S . Embassy in Liberia , the U . S . Agency for International Development , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations . “The AFL and 14 Military Hospital are doing incredible work , ” he said . “We value their partnership , and we’re continually looking for more ways to assist them in serving the people of Liberia . ”During the April visit , Michigan Guard members determined the hospital should focus on preventive medicine , stroke awareness and treating burn victims . One thing is clear: The hospital is already saving lives . But more people need to know . “I tell those who are sick or hurt that they should pray , ” said Everts . “But pray on your way to the hospital!”
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