Letter from a Fleet Hospital

One of my Navy doctor friends has been heard from, from an unknown foreign country at war, and I have excerpted some of the letter that’s medically interesting. I have gotten his permission to post it.

“The first several days we were busy putting up the fleet hospital. It is a pretty impressive structure. It is essentially a metal frame tent system that has interior and exterior liners. The interior liner is insulated and we have air conditioning that works off and on. There are multiple generators within the camp and we have a fair amount of electrical medical equipment. The hospital also has these large metal containers that are sort of like truck trailers and in these are prefabricated structures like the operating rooms and bathrooms. Once you enter the hospital, everything is connected so you never have to leave. During the day, you don’t want to leave because of the heat outside. The people that are on night shifts are really suffering because from about 10am to 5 pm it is almost impossible to sleep because of the heat. Our berthing tents are regular tents. We can open up the flaps to get a bit of a breeze but it doesn’t seem to help that much.

My job has been pretty interesting so far. Most of the patients that we see have been seen at another lower echelon of care first so there isn’t too much primary stuff that we need to/ get to do. A lot of it is trying to figure out what they did at the previous place because often we don’t get documentation of what was done. This seems to be getting better though.

I work in the casualty receiving section which is kind of like the ER. We are a mixture of ER and Family physicians. The family physicians have been doing a great job and we (ER docs) have been trying to help them with some of the procedures that they haven’t done in a while. Other than work, there is not much else to do. They are trying to show some movies and have other recreational activities but I have been too tired to do anything else.

I eventually get back to my tent at night, read a book and then fall asleep. I try to write my letters during the day while it is slow.”

He also reports that snail mail isn’t getting there yet, but that they have email.