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European edition, Thursday, August 23, 2007

VICENZA, Italy — In a few years, soldiers and their families shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out where they need to go to receive medical treatment on Caserma Ederle.

The Southern European Task Force (Airborne) has awarded a contract for a 30 million euro ($42 million) medical treatment facility that will incorporate the various medical facilities on base into one location. Groundbreaking on the facility is set for next month, with an expected completion date of April 2010.

The contract was given to a joint venture from Bilfinger Berger of Germany and Pizzarotti of Italy, construction firms that have received praise on a number of U.S. military projects in Italy.

“Our patients deserve the best health care facilities, and the center is just that,” said Col. Bradley Harper, commander of the health clinic on base.

The 142,000-square-foot center, officially called the Enhanced Health Service Center, will combine dental, medical and social services in one place. Jeri Chappelle, a public affairs officer for the Europe Regional Medical Command, said “enhanced” has been added because the facility will admit pregnant women to deliver their babies.

It will not be designed for most patients to stay overnight, though some same-day surgeries could be performed, Harper said.

He said it was possible that more medical personnel — both American and Italian — could be assigned on base, but numbers haven’t yet been determined.

Officials stressed that American patients would continue to be treated for a variety of serious ailments at the San Bortolo hospital off base. That facility, one of the largest in the Veneto region, has a long relationship treating the American military population in Vicenza.

The new facility will be the closet thing the Army has to an on-base hospital in Italy. The Navy and Air Force already operate hospitals in Naples and Aviano.

The facility is one of the first projects envisioned in the Vicenza 2020 plan that will transform much of Caserma Ederle over the next few decades. The SETAF population is due to expand in a few years when battalions from the 173rd Airborne Brigade currently based in Germany consolidate in Vicenza. And, while much attention has been focused on U.S. plans at the Dal Molin airfield, Ederle will see a substantial amount of construction as well.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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