In early August, Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Ana Kehrberg contacted the Marketing department at Muskingum to provide an update on a Neuroscience alumnus who was doing some “great things.” With the help of Dr. Kehrberg, the staff connected with Dr. David Shahbodaghi, active duty Army Major (recently promoted) and Tropical & Travel Medicine Physician, and quickly learned those great things include protecting the health – and in some cases saving the lives – of American service members.
Dr. Shahbodaghi currently serves as the leader of the Army Central Command (ARCENT) COVID-19 response force in the Middle East, a region with one of the first and largest COVID-19 outbreaks. In an email to the marketing department, Dr. Shahbodaghi indicated his team of 11 medics and one physician assistant have provided advanced medical care to numerous patients since March of 2020. The team has overseen more than 50 air-based medical evacuations of ill patients to higher levels of care while working in a location that “has been tricky (to provide treatment) given the austere nature of the environment and our limited resources.”
Despite some challenges, Dr. Shahbodaghi says his very skilled team has come together to make an actionable difference in the health of service members in the region – including caring for, and ultimately saving, six soldiers who were critically ill with the virus.
According to a news article published by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Dr. Shahbodaghi played a critical role in preparing the region for the pandemic:
“The Medical Company Area Support Unit was first deployed as part of a rapid response force in January to help deter Iranian aggression; however, at the end of February their mission changed to help prepare U.S. military units to battle the emerging pandemic. Having helped develop the U.S. military’s COVID-19 medical response system, Shahbodaghi was well prepared to help joint units in this situation and acted quickly to get these personnel to a higher level of medical care.”
The article goes on to describe the measures taken by the Department of Defense to combat the spread of the virus, and the combined efforts of the joint medical team to treat and move COVID-19 patients “out of the theater to the hospital to obtain the care they needed.”
“The work our team is doing has a direct impact on the health and welfare of deployed soldiers, and by association on their loved ones and families. This is extremely fulfilling by its very nature as our primary duty as Army Physicians is the care of service members,” Dr. Shahbodaghi said. “Soldiers perform better knowing if they become injured or ill they will be in the hands of expert medical personnel, and our team lives and works by this credo every day.”
The medical team’s extraordinary efforts have also been lauded on social media by the 3d Medical Command Forward and others:
When asked how his time at Muskingum University prepared him for his exceptional career, Dr. Shahbodaghi was quick to extol the value of a liberal arts education which prepared him to approach real-world situations from an analytical perspective.
“Muskingum was an excellent training ground for me. I was a double major in Neuroscience and History and was taught to think critically, to use my analytical skills and think outside of the box, which I believe are key elements of a true liberal arts education,” said Dr. Shahbodaghi.
Thank you so much for helping to keep our service members safe, Dr. Shahbodaghi. And thank you to all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines for protecting our freedom! Go Muskies!