TOFOL, MICRONESIA --
U.S. Marines with Task Force Koa Moana 23 renovated the Dr. Arthur P. Sigrah Memorial Hospital in Tofol, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, June 20 to Sept. 6, 2023.
The Dr. Arthur P. Sigrah Memorial Hospital was built in the 1970s and its last major renovation was more than 20 years ago. According to a 2021 site survey, with no maintenance done to the building, it had severely deteriorated.
“In terms of the operability, some of the rooms, because of the bad conditions, the walls were falling apart, the roof leaking … we used to have one consultation room, but now we have four since they came in and fixed it up,” said Dr. Tholman Alik, the director of the Department of Health Services of Kosrae. “The leaks coming from the roof were so bad that we had to shut down some of the spaces, but now they are fixed and we have access to the rest of those areas.”
Some areas in the hospital suffered from major deterioration including leaks, mold, termite and rodent infestations, damaged plumbing and rusted roof panels. The numerous issues risked safe working conditions and a sanitary environment for both the hospital staff and the patients in their care.
“Planning for this project was difficult because while we did a pre-deployment site survey, we were planning from 1,200 miles away,” said 1st Lt. Campbell Kerr, a native of Kansas City, Missouri and the Kosrae detachment officer in charge with Task Force Koa Moana 23. “Luckily, we were able to work hand in hand via email with state leadership to determine the requirements for the project.”
While the Marines had their work cut out for them, the end state would be a huge benefit for the Department of Health Services and the people of Kosrae.
“Interacting with the community here in Kosrae has been nothing but positive. The excitement when we first got here was pretty extreme. The people here are extremely grateful that we were holding up our end of the bargain for our partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia.” 1st Lt. Campbell Kerr, Kosrae detachment officer in charge with Task Force Koa Moana 23
“The biggest thing this renovation will bring us is the improvement of the facility itself in terms of cleanliness, safe working environment, a suitable working environment and tending to patient care,” said Alik. “It allows us to feel inspired and motivated to be healthcare workers in a clean environment like this. From the patient side of it, I would think that they would appreciate being in an environment that is so clean and I think it would definitely be very helpful and encouraging for them as well to just be in a place that is much cleaner than it used to be. That will definitely help them to recover.”
According to Alik, in Kosrae, it is very difficult to find contractors to get projects done.
“I don't know how we could have done it without them,” said Alik. “I think it was the right call, we are very fortunate to have them accept our request to do the project. The nurses, the support staff, everybody working in this hospital had the experience and opportunity to work alongside them. It really gives us a new surge of energy and motivation to build on this, in terms of the working environment and cleanliness.”
In addition to the hospital renovation, the Marines also worked on other community projects and participated in community relation events.
Photo by Cpl. Trent A. Henry
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ashton Struck, a native of Alexandria, Minnesota and a combat engineer with Task Force Koa Moana 23, operates a power saw during a renovation project at the Dr. Arthur P. Sigrah Memorial Hospital on Tofol, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, Sept. 6, 2023. Task Force Koa Moana 23, composed of U.S. Marines and Sailors from I Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed to the Indo-Pacific to strengthen relationships with Pacific Island partners through bilateral and multilateral security cooperation and community engagements.
“We also participated in their expo by building stages for their performances and then we've also improved their playgrounds,” said Cpl. Jujawn Banks, a native of Port Huron, Michigan and a bulk fuel specialist with the task force. “The key takeaway of us being out here, especially at this time in this brutal heat, is ensuring that we can show people that despite the climate and weather, we can still come and assist in any project that they need.”
Task Force Koa Moana 23, comprised of U.S. Marines and Sailors from I Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed to the Indo-Pacific with the goal of strengthening relationships with Pacific Island Partners. This summer is the first time the task force has gone to the Federated States of Micronesia.
"Interacting with the community here in Kosrae has been nothing but positive," said Kerr. "The excitement when we first got here was pretty extreme. The people here are extremely grateful that we were holding up our end of the bargain for our partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia."