CHICAGO - Patrick A. Dietz, MD, an attending surgeon in the department of vascular surgery at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY, has recently returned from a two-week rotation Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LMRC) located near Kaiserslautern, Germany. While there, he helped care for U.S. military members who needed urgent care after being critically injured in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).
The LRMC is a stopping point where soldiers can be stabilized before returning to military hospitals in the United States. It is the largest American hospital outside the United States and an American College of Surgeons Level 1 Trauma Center. Since 2001, the medical staff at LRMC has treated more than 64,000 patients from Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“This is my second tour at LRMC, working as a volunteer from the Society of Vascular Surgery (SVS),” said Dr. Dietz. “My first rotation was in November and December of 2010. The first tour was very busy and coincided with the U.S. troop surge that began in 2009, which resulted in multiple patients including double and some triple amputees. As a vascular surgeon, I am used to seeing amputees, including elderly patients with severe arterial insufficiency and multiple co-morbidities. However, seeing such major trauma in otherwise healthy young men was a very different emotional experience. “Fortunately, this time there were few patients,” added Dr. Dietz. “I had time to consult on vascular patients in the outpatient clinic; the patients and staff were very grateful. As expected, when you volunteer you receive more than you give. I learned a great deal during Intensive Care Unit rounds, and was impressed by the quality of care provided and expertise of the military physicians. Our interactions were very mutually supportive and valuable. Many on staff were the same people who had been there in 2010. I also brought back some knowledge that would add to my practice as well.
“While at LRMC, I was involved in was largely pure trauma surgery and wound care,” added Dr. Dietz. “Overall, there may have been little specific vascular surgery to do, but LRMC staff greatly appreciated for our presence and the backup we provided. The staff and volunteers are all aware that while it may be quiet one week, they could have multiple casualties tomorrow, so they need to be ever ready.
“For me, this is an ideal way to “give back” directly to the young soldiers who have done such service for those of us who stayed at home and I really appreciated the opportunity,” said Dr. Dietz. “People say ‛thank you for your service’ but this is a debt that we can’t even start to repay.”
Previously Dr. Dietz had military experience including two years of active duty as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy serving at the Marine Corps base in 29 Palms, California from 1975-1977, right as the Vietnam War ended.
Dr. Dietz is a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS). Since September 2007, a more than 100 SVS members have volunteered to supplement the limited number of vascular surgeons at the LMRC.
About the Society for Vascular Surgery
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 3,650 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its Web site at www.VascularWeb.org