U.S. NAVAL BASE GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- The Navy began construction of a temporary medical facility here this week capable of providing medical attention for the detainees now being held at Camp X-Ray.
The construction of the hospital capable of providing care that ranges from dental exams to major surgery, required more than 180 people including members of Navy Fleet Hospital 20 from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Initially, it took 17 Navy builders from Construction Battalion 423, commonly known as "the Seabees," to clear and prepare the land for the hospital.
This effort alone took more than three days of intense 24-hour operations beginning January 18. Tents went up in one day and the International Standards Organization (ISO) containers were unpacked, expanded and organized into rooms and storage areas fit for labs, washrooms and examination rooms.
According to the fleet hospital executive officer, Navy Cmdr. Kevin L. Gallagher, no detainees will receive medical care outside of Cuba. If specialists are required, they will be brought into the hospital.
"There is a regular plan set to screen for diseases as the detainees arrive. Any test that's indicated we have the capability to do, or we can send off for it," said Gallagher. "This is a complete hospital, so we have top of the line lab equipment, respirators, ICU (intensive care unit) equipment, OR (operating room) equipment, anesthesia machines... this is fully capable."
The hospital is also large enough to take on the task ahead.
"It takes up approximately 1.5 acres. It has a 36-bed capacity. Due to security, we are redesigning the hospital as we go. This hospital has never been designed to work with detainees, so it's one of the things you have to adjust to as we go along," said Navy Builder Chief Will Clarke, Construction Battalion 423.
Joel Moore, with the Fleet Hospital Assistance Team (FHAT), represents the fleet hospital support office. His office designs and packs the hospital into the ISOs and sends a technical representative during construction. If there is a problem with the construction or utilities, they try to resolve the problem. He has been in the design department of the fleet hospital for eight years.
"In this particular hospital, it will have three wings: It will have a pharmacy, a lab, an x-ray, and mobile utility modules (which are like head facilities)," said Moore. "The second wing is a medical suite which has the casualty receiving and operating room. The third wing is an intensive care unit wing."
This hospital will give the detainees the same care that we would give our own troops, he said.
The 24-hour facility will have security measures in place, with two military police accompanying each detainee to the hospital and remaining there with him.
The majority of the hospital staff is from fleet hospital Camp Lejeune, but there also are staff members from all over the Navy.
"It's always neat to see something that you've put on paper for two or three years actually go up and go operational," Moore said.
The workload of the staff will depend on the health condition of the detainees and what their needs are, which will not be known until they arrive at the hospital. The hospital is scheduled to be here as long as medical facilities are needed.
"The Commander in Chief requested that we treat these detainees and give them top of the line medical care, and we're proud to do that," Gallagher said.
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