by Steve Brady
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
9/8/2015 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- When
you're living 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and the closet big
city is hours away by air, the availability of health care is a big
Enter the Thule AB hospital. The 821st Air Base Group operates the Thule
hospital, a small but vital facility at the Department of Defense's
"We manage the health care and medical programs at Thule," said Tech.
Sgt. Amber Russo, 821st Support Squadron Surgeon General Flight chief.
"We saw about 290 out-patients in July, and three in-patients."
Russo and Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Dellacca ensure the hospital is stocked
and the equipment works, and oversee the daily operations of the
contracted Danish doctors and nurses who provide the health care. The
providers care for all the active duty and contractors stationed at
"Our Danish providers rotate every four to six weeks or so," Russo said.
"We work with them on a daily basis as a liaison between them and (the
21st Medical Group at Peterson AFB) to make sure that our active duty
members are medically ready and fit to fight."
"The providers do an amazing job providing care for our patients," she
said. "They are very personable and love to interact with our
active-duty members. It's a very unique assignment to be able to work
with providers from a different country and they are a pleasure to work
with every day."
The hospital, built in 2004, offers an emergency room, imaging including
ultrasound and X-ray, a pharmacy, laboratory services, immunizations,
primary care, a morgue and outpatient care. It also has beds for
in-patients and an operating room for minor surgeries. Two dental chairs
are also available for a visiting dentist from Denmark every couple
months. The Drug Demand and Reduction Program, Self-Aid Buddy Care and
CPR classes are also held at the hospital.
The in-patient admissions are typically for dehydration or a minor
surgery, she said, while the really sick are flown out if necessary.
"For really sick patients we can air-evac them out, otherwise we work
with Andrews Air Force Base for higher level care," Russo said.
While providing 24-hour emergency services in such a remote area is not simple, it's a job she said she enjoys.
"I like being here for the active duty," Russo said. "It's not out of
the norm for (Airmen here) to see a provider from a different country,
so it's nice to be here as a sort of patient advocate to help with their