NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- In spite of its location, roughly 1,000 miles from salt water, Naval Hospital Great Lakes (NHGL) is supporting the fleet with well-trained medical professionals who have deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"We currently have 60 people scattered throughout the world in support of Iraqi Freedom," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sam T. Collins. Collins, the leading petty officer for NHGL plans, operations and medical intelligence, is tasked with getting these doctors, nurses, corpsmen, technical personnel and other assets out to the fleet.
Currently, NHGL Sailors are deployed to ships and stations in the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (GITMO). "We have 18 officers and 42 enlisted TAD (temporary additional duty) right now," said Collins. "Our primary goal is providing health care needs for the Recruit Training Command and Service School Command here at Great Lakes, but our secondary mission is standing by to support the fleet. After 9/11, we have become accustomed to answering the call when (the Bureau of Medicine of Surgery) needs us."
Included in the deployments are psychiatrists and psychologists who have been assigned to GITMO to tend to the prisoner's needs.
"Many people forget that Camp X-ray at GITMO is an important part of Iraqi Freedom, even though it is on the other side of the world," said Collins.
NHGL also sends a variety of specialists to CENTCOM, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, critical care nurses, physician assistants, medical service officers, emergency trauma doctors and nurses, aviation medical technicians, independent duty corpsmen, fleet marine force-qualified corpsmen, preventive medicine technicians and more.
"We send administrative assistance personnel, also," Collins said. "We currently have operations specialists, electronic technicians and storekeepers deployed along with our medical personnel."
Many times, the NHGL Sailors must deploy with only 24-48 hours notice. In these cases, teamwork, from getting orders written to taking care of legal matters, is the theme.
"We marvel how the Great Lakes team aids us in getting our people out there," said Collins. "Our legal department gets word that we have to deploy and they come over to take care of wills and powers of attorney. They have done a superb job in taking care of our Sailors with short notice."
Collins noted that the entire base takes part in making his job easier.
"When I am deploying people on a short fuse of 24-48 hours, I can really appreciate all the tremendous support we get from all Great Lakes base personnel. I can't mention everyone, but the support has always been there. Our team here is superb."
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