Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 3 Oct 2007

From MNF-I, Hospital project provides jobs in Basrah.

BASRAH — The construction site of the Basrah Children’s Hospital is a hotbed of activity these days, with an average of 750 workers on the job each day, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chad Lorenzana.

The number of workers is likely to hit 1,000 or more a day as the project enters new phases, said Lorenzana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Gulf Region South District resident engineer.

Recently, Lorenzana guided a group of visitors around the high-profile project, whose list of patrons is headed by First Lady Laura Bush.

Among the visitors were Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Dorko, who will assume command of USACE-Gulf Region Division on Oct. 10; Army Col. Dale Adams, GRD deputy commanding officer; and Col. Steve Hill, GRS commander.

The $163 million, 94-bed hospital, which will focus on oncology, is targeted to open in January 2009. Once badly foundering, the project has been moving ahead steadily since USACE assumed responsibility for its management and a new contractor was brought in.

Dorko cast a professional engineer’s eye on the construction work and pronounced it “decent.” He said hospital construction is very hard to begin with, and added that “I can’t imagine how much harder it is” in place that has had to cope with oppression, war and violence.

“It’s a magnificent project and I can’t wait to come back and see it when it's finished,” said Dorko. Construction is now 66 percent complete, Lorenzana told him.

The Basrah Children’s Hospital was one of a number of job sites Dorko is visiting prior to taking command of GRD. Already he has visited a newly constructed berth at Umm Qasr Port and Camp Bucca, where 20,500 detainees are housed.