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Friday, October 21, 2011

Afghanistan Theater Receives State-of-the-Art MRI Systems

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From Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The top doctor for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps announced the delivery of two mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems to Afghanistan Oct. 4-7.

Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr. said that the delivery marked the end of an unprecedented medical equipment procurement initiative to deliver a first-ever MRI capability to a combat theater.

The first mobile MRI system arrived on a mega-cargo Antonov AN 124 Russian aircraft Oct 4. Weighing more than 70,000 pounds, the MRI and its accompanying supplies were unloaded using a prime mover, two flatbeds, and a forklift to travel to its final destination at the Role 3 hospital at Camp Bastion. A second MRI was delivered to the Role 3 hospital in Kandahar Oct 7, and progress continues on both systems for final installation, prepping and testing.

“Fielding MRIs into active combat theaters is unprecedented as both logistics and clinical procedures had to be created,” said Robinson. “The fact that our team was able to design, acquire and deliver this new capability to the battlefield in less than 12 months is a testament to the commitment and creativity of the joint medical and logistics teams.”

Throughout the procurement process, BUMED worked closely with Army and Air Force Medical Departments to address every element involved in fielding this battlefield MRI capability which included resolving engineering, logistical and technical issues while also working the challenges of transportation, personnel, training, shielding and sustainment requirements simultaneously.

Naval Medical Logistics Command (NMLC) was tasked by Robinson with spearheading the procurement and sustainment issues for this initiative. NMLC developed an acquisition strategy that was able to reduce procurement time and address multiple logistics issues in seven months as opposed to the normal 12 to 18 months for a typical MRI system procurement. Headquartered at Fort Detrick, Md., NMLC is the center of logistics expertise for Navy Medicine and designs, executes and administers state-of-the-art solutions to meet customer’s medical material and healthcare needs.

According to NMLC commanding officer Capt. James B., Poindexter III, the Navy worked closely with its sister services to field this unique MRI capability for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan as part of the overall comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating concussive injuries.

“This was a complex and extraordinary acquisition issue and our team worked hard to field this equipment as soon as possible while ensuring it would do the job we intended it to do,” said Poindexter. “Taking care of our men and women in uniform close to the battlefield is our top priority.”

Poindexter stated that the acquisition endeavor which began in January 2011 was a massive undertaking in coordination with NMLC and its technical and operational partners that included the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, Task Force Medical-Afghanistan, Central Command, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Medical Logistics Office, National Intrepid Center of Excellence, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center-Bethesda, and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force.

As the Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Robinson leads 63,000 Navy Medicine personnel who provide healthcare support to the Navy and Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.

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