Landstuhl will push to keep medical center

LANDSTUHL, Germany — The mayor of Landstuhl doesn’t intend to let the largest U.S. medical facility in Europe leave his backyard without a fight.

Mayor Klaus Grumer and Karl Peter Bruch, the Rhineland-Palatinate minister of interior, announced Friday their intentions to try to persuade the U.S. government to keep Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, where it’s been for nearly 60 years.

"We have the whole infrastructure set up here," Grumer said.

If the U.S. military needs more space to expand LRMC, then the city is prepared to provide additional land at the current location, Grumer and Bruch told reporters after meeting with German politicians in Landstuhl.

Bruch said he’ll present that alternative to Pentagon officials, with whom he plans to meet next month in Washington.

The Defense Department announced in March that it would begin the planning phase of combining LRMC and the Air Force’s medical clinic on Ramstein into one location at an old Army depot in Weilerbach, next to Ramstein Air Base. The department supports that alternative over funding extensive renovations needed at each facility, U.S. European Command officials said then.

Both the hospital and the Ramstein clinic were built in the 1950s.

U.S. military officials say the project is contingent upon future congressional support.

The hospital, 10 miles south of Ramstein, is the first stop for all wounded U.S. troops coming from Afghanistan and Iraq. Military aircraft carrying wounded troops from downrange land at Ramstein, and troops are taken by bus for the 15-minute trip to Landstuhl. Military officials have said the Weilerbach location would shorten this trip for hospital care.

Grumer said, however, that keeping the hospital at its current location is advantageous because, while it is still close to Ramstein, it is far enough from the base’s busy flight line so "there is not direct noise problem" from aircraft.

He also said that one reason cited in the military’s study for the possible relocation was problems found in the hospital’s foundation. If that’s indeed true, the mayor said a new medical facility could still be built in Landstuhl instead of Weilerbach.

EUCOM officials could not be reached late Friday afternoon for comment.