Local resident travels to Iraq to install a communications system

David Kephart, owner of Com Pros, Inc., recently embarked on a trip to Kurdistan to help design, install and implement a two-way radio system to help improve health care and communications.
Kephart was born and raised in Tyrone and graduated from Tyrone Area High School in 1959.
Director of Healthcare Partnerships, Dr. Douglas Layton, was in America to find volunteers for the project. While Dr. Layton was in Pittsburgh, he gave a talk about equipment the United States government had given to the government in Kurdistan to help doctors communicate better between rural areas.
Kurdistan is in the very northern part of Iraq. It is about the size of Pennsylvania and borders Syria, Turkey and Iran.
Dr. Layton called on Kephart to volunteer, and that is how Kephart first became involved. Kephart recently spent two months volunteering in Kurdistan. The trip was paid for by Cornerstone TV of Pittsburgh, and during his stay, expenses were paid for by Healthcare Partnerships. While away, he was a guest of the Minister of Health in Kurdistan.
The main project Kephart worked on was to design a system around the equipment that was donated and the town sites he had to work with. After this was done, he had to then work on a way to install the system.
He took two trips to complete the work. During the first trip, Kephart designed the system and completed the initial tower and installation work. On the second trip, he completed more installation work and programming. The next step in the process is to implement the system.
“We traveled all over Kurdistan, on the mountain tops doing all this,” explained Kephart.
While in Kurdistan, Kephart worked with a technical assistant who did not speak English. He also had a personal assistant who was with him at all times. He was able to stay at the Minister of Health’s compound during the stay.
As a guest, he was permitted to use the government tower sites that are heavily guarded on the mountain tops. He said the mountain tops provided beautiful views, and he was able to see another side of the world.
Kephart explained the reason for the project. He said Iraq has trouble getting their doctors to go in rural areas, so the government made it mandatory for doctors to spend a year there. Communication from the rural areas to the main hospitals is difficult.
Kephart explained there are healthcare clinics, which are like sector hospitals. There are about 700 rural clinics, which are areas for people to go to for medical assistance.
These sector hospitals were in need of a communications system so that rural doctors could communicate with the main hospital for the area.
The doctors in Kurdistan are in the process of being able to do that now after Kephart installed the system. The purpose of the project is for doctors to be able to get medical command or instruction when it is available.
Kephart expects to go back to Kurdistan at some point to continue his work.
“The people over there are absolutely wonderful,” he said. “The people of Kurdistan are so happy we’re there.”