Heidelberg operating room to remain open
Stars and Stripes August 12, 2009
Europe Regional Medical Command officials have decided to keep open the operating room at Heidelberg Health Center, reversing an earlier decision to shut it down.
Keeping the operating room open means surgeons will continue to perform same-day surgeries, including arthroscopic knee and ankle procedures, hemorrhoid removal, breast biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures.
The operating room had been slated to close Sept. 1 as the last major step in the transformation of the hospital into a clinic. Steve Davis, spokesman for Europe Regional Medical Command, would not discuss why ERMC officials decided not to close the operating room, saying only that the earlier decision was "premature."
"As long as there are enough patients to serve there, we will keep it open for the time being," Davis said. "We haven’t set a time line on it."
Originally, Heidelberg residents needing same-day surgery after the closure were to be referred to German hospitals. At the time, medical officials said the health center’s surgeons, who were performing, on average, fewer than three surgeries per day, could be used better elsewhere.
"Rather than make the beneficiaries go elsewhere, we are shifting the doctors," Davis said. "If necessary, some surgeons will be splitting their time at other locations."
Brig. Gen. Keith W. Gallagher, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army command surgeon and commander of ERMC, said in a news release that surgeons benefit from performing less complex surgeries at Heidelberg. Residents requiring overnight care, though, will still be referred to local hospitals, which have the necessary inpatient facilities.
"The quality of care at the Heidelberg MEDDAC [Medical Department Activity] is superb and it will remain so," Gallagher said in the news release. "Any future decisions will, of course, take into consideration medical service requirements of the Heidelberg community during a period of continued transformation."