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

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt Markus M. Maier
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs
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.

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.