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Workers Return to Hospitals in Baghdad - 2003-05-12

Baghdad's hospitals are beginning to recover. Most doctors and nurses have returned to work now that looting has stopped. Lab technicians are back at their microscopes identifying infections. Surgeons are getting X-rays as they decide how to operate. Brian Purchia has more.

During widespread looting many hospitals were able to hide two-to-three month's worth of medicines and supplies. Now the U.S. military has moved into the hospitals to stop any potential looters, and they’ve found large warehouses filled with medicines, which they are distributing as needed. Relief agency supplies are beginning to arrive as well, and that’s good news to doctors.

"Everyday is coming is much better than the day before."

These hospitals are beginning to function. How some are managed is still in some doubt.

At a third of Baghdad's 26 hospitals, Muslim Shiite clergy now say they are in charge. At this hospital, 31 year old Sheik Abbas Zubaidi, who has no experience with hospitals, posted 20 armed guards, seized the keys to medical supplies, and even started paying the staff small amounts of money.

His only proof of authority is this certificate signed by Muslim clerics. Doctors say they don't like these sheiks running their hospitals. And they've asked the American military to intercede. The military is taking the diplomatic approach. U.S. Army Captain Roger Elliot.

"The sheik has been very, very helpful. He came in and helped this community, made sure it stayed secure. Very appreciative of that."

But many of the doctors still have questions about the quality of Iraqi health care in the weeks and months ahead.