This article was written by CCIH Advocacy and Communications Intern Jamie Wagner before she returned to her academic career.
CCIH Member Shares Reflections on the Emergency Field Hospital in Iraq
In October of 2016 the United States came alongside Iraq in an offensive front against ISIS. In the months leading up to this, Samaritan’s Purse was praying over the potential of sending a medical response team to follow in hopes of helping with the inevitable health crisis of the displaced peoples. Despite security concerns, Samaritan’s Purse felt that it was not only an opportunity but a responsibility of theirs to go and care for the wounded in Mosul. In December 2016, a team deployed and they set up the very first field hospital in response to the Mosul Conflict.
The team at the Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital (EFH) saw its first patient on January 8, 2017 and for several months they cared for the trauma needs of those injured on the front lines. The conflict came to an end in July of 2017, but Samaritan’s Purse leadership felt called to keep their facility up and running for those that were returning to the surrounding communities. Over the nine months of programming, over 450 staff were deployed to work for the hospital. The team there completed 4186 visits and 1711 surgeries before handing the facility over to the Ninewa Ministry of Health (MOH) on September 28, 2017.
In April of 2018, I had the chance to catch up with Megan Vitek, Global Technical Advisor for International Medical Programs. Megan started her career as a nurse in Washington, D.C. and, upon completing her MPH at Johns Hopkins University, transitioned into emergency medical program implementation and management. She has worked in several different countries, focusing on health epidemics such as Ebola, Zika, Cholera, and Diphtheria. In 2017, Megan worked and lived at the EFH in Mosul, Iraq where she started as a nurse and then was the program manager for the last several months of the program. She is now based at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in North Carolina, supporting SP medical programming worldwide.
I asked Megan to share a bit about her time in Iraq and what she wanted CCIH members to know about the work that was done there. She shared that some of the biggest difficulties that the team had were mitigating the risks as much as possible so staff could be safe working in Iraq.
As the project got underway, getting supplies into the country became the most difficult task. She finished by sharing the fact that the emergency field hospital itself would not have been possible if it were not for the church and those that gave of themselves to go and serve.
“Due to the blessings that the Lord gave us, we were able to make it out to Iraq,” said Megan. “There were so many things that could have caused us to have to leave, but He kept us there and safe.”
The impact that Samaritan’s Purse made in Iraq changed the lives of both those serving and those served. Megan said, “Working for and living in the Iraq EFH was one of the most restorative and encouraging years of my life – I watched and personally experienced the Lord pouring out His living water into the desert. Patients, national staff, and expats alike, lived through horrific trauma and yet, through the presence of the Iraq EFH, experienced the promises spoken of in Isaiah 35 come to life: ‘ Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy … Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.’”
Today, Megan is back in North Carolina working at Samaritan’s Purse headquarters and the EFH is still in the hands of the Ministry of Health functioning as an outpatient facility for the surrounding community of Ninewah.
Megan will be presenting about the EFH at the CCIH Annual Conference in a breakout session on Sunday, July 15 at 12:50 pm.