German, U.S. officials meet to discuss proposed new KMC Medical Center

VOGELWEH AIR BASE, Ger­many (AFNS) — U.S. senior mil­i­tary lead­ers host­ed Ger­man fed­er­al, state and local gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives here Feb. 27 to talk about the pro­posed new Kaiser­slautern Mil­i­tary Com­mu­ni­ty Med­ical Cen­ter.

Ger­man Under­sec­re­tary Rain­er Bom­ba, of the Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry for Traf­fic and Con­struc­tion, and Maj. Gen. James Booz­er, the U.S. Army Europe deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al, share some thoughts dur­ing a meet­ing about the pro­posed new Kaiser­slautern Mil­i­tary Com­mu­ni­ty Med­ical Facil­i­ty at Vogel­weh Air Base, Ger­many, Feb. 27, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Markus M. Maier)

The pur­pose of the meet­ing, accord­ing to offi­cials, was to famil­iar­ize the Ger­man lead­ers with the cur­rent sta­tus of the project, the pro­posed way ahead and talk about some of the chal­lenges.

“This is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to have sol­id dia­logue and dis­cus­sion about a project that is absolute­ly crit­i­cal to U.S. forces here in Europe,” said Maj. Gen. James Booz­er, the U.S. Army Europe deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al. “The over­ar­ch­ing require­ment for us is to build a facil­i­ty that pro­vides qual­i­ty health­care for U.S. forces that are assigned here in Europe as well as sup­port forces assigned to Africa and Cen­tral com­mands. This has to be accom­plished in accor­dance with Ger­man law and with min­i­mal impact to the envi­ron­ment.”

Booz­er also talked about the sig­nif­i­cance the new hos­pi­tal will have.

“This project is of strate­gic impor­tance not just to the Euro­pean the­ater, but our nation as a whole,” the gen­er­al said. “With about 50,000 U.S. per­son­nel liv­ing and work­ing here, the KMC is cur­rent­ly the largest com­mu­ni­ty of U.S. ser­vice mem­bers, civil­ians and their fam­i­lies out­side of the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States. This area is impor­tant to us. It is now and it will be in the future.”

The new med­ical facil­i­ty, which will be locat­ed on the Weiler­bach por­tion of Rhine Ord­nance Bar­racks, is sched­uled to replace the Land­stuhl Region­al Med­ical Cen­ter and Ram­stein Air Base Clin­ic upon com­ple­tion, due to the aging infra­struc­ture of the two facil­i­ties.

LRMC cur­rent­ly sees approx­i­mate­ly 480,000 out­pa­tients and about 8,000 inpa­tients annu­al­ly, while the Ram­stein Clin­ic cares for approx­i­mate­ly 115,000 out­pa­tients annu­al­ly.

“Over the past sev­er­al years we looked at sev­er­al options as to where to build this new hos­pi­tal.” Booz­er said. “We con­sid­ered inputs from a vari­ety of orga­ni­za­tions and our Ger­man part­ners.”

Weiler­bach was cho­sen, among oth­er rea­sons, because the land is already under U.S. con­trol as part of Rhine Ord­nance Bar­racks, reduc­ing the over­all project cost, and because of its prox­im­i­ty to Ram­stein Air Base, reduc­ing trans­porta­tion times for crit­i­cal­ly wound­ed ser­vice mem­bers. It cur­rent­ly takes approx­i­mate­ly 30 min­utes to trans­port patients from the Con­tin­gency Aeromed­ical Stag­ing Facil­i­ty at Ram­stein AB to LRMC; the new facil­i­ty will reduce this tran­sit time.

After a brief­ing from the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers, the atten­dees were treat­ed to a work­ing lunch, fol­lowed with dis­cus­sions on a vari­ety of top­ics rang­ing from the con­struc­tion time­line to envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

“This project is a sym­bol of the great part­ner­ship which exists between the State of Rhein­land Pfalz and the U.S. forces liv­ing in our com­mu­ni­ty,” said Ger­man Under­sec­re­tary Dr. Sal­va­tore Bar­baro, of the Min­istry for Finance Rhein­land-Pfalz. “We are deal­ing with a very sig­nif­i­cant project that, as far region­al poli­cies are con­cerned, will play a key role in the eco­nom­ic future in this region.”

Barbaro’s fed­er­al coun­ter­part echoed these sen­ti­ments, adding that com­mu­ni­ca­tion between all stake­hold­ers is essen­tial to ensure the suc­cess of a project of this size.

“The rela­tion­ship with Ger­many and the Unit­ed States and the U.S. ser­vice mem­bers sta­tioned here in Ger­many has tra­di­tion­al­ly been very good,” said Under­sec­re­tary Rain­er Bom­ba, of the Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry for Traf­fic and Con­struc­tion. “With a project of this mag­ni­tude, it is imper­a­tive that our lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion are open and we use forums like this one to dis­cuss what­ev­er chal­lenges come up in an effort to find solu­tions and move for­ward.”

Bom­ba added that he looks for­ward to work­ing close­ly with the U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tives and pledged his, and the Ger­man government’s, full sup­port.

Con­struc­tion of the new med­ical facil­i­ty is sched­uled to begin this year start­ing with the site prepa­ra­tion and run­ning util­i­ties such as water, gas and elec­tric­i­ty to the site. The esti­mat­ed time of com­ple­tion is in 2019.

U.S. Air Force

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