Support our mission
Army Capt. Karla Clarke, center, an ICU nurse at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, assists in transporting her patient to a bus for air transport Aug. 21st, 2007. LRMC has become the only hospital outside the U.S. designated as a Level II trauma center. With the new designation come tougher standards in everything from tracking patients to receiving patients and documenting medical care.

Army Capt. Karla Clarke, center, an ICU nurse at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, assists in transporting her patient to a bus for air transport Aug. 21st, 2007. LRMC has become the only hospital outside the U.S. designated as a Level II trauma center. With the new designation come tougher standards in everything from tracking patients to receiving patients and documenting medical care. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

LANDSTUHL, Germany — Landstuhl Regional Medical Center has seen a nearly 45 percent drop in the number of inpatients — mostly wounded troops — from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last six months.

The U.S. Army hospital, which had 327 war-related inpatients in May, saw the number fall to 146 in December. The statistic supports other reports and data showing that since the U.S. military’s “surge” — begun in earnest in spring 2007 — troops in Iraq have experienced fewer attacks.

In December, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said violence was down about 60 percent in Iraq since the June “surge.”

“Every trend that we watch is down, roughly about 60 percent — civilian deaths, numbers of attacks — thankfully, and touch wood, our casualties down substantially as well,” according to a transcript of Petraeus on “Fox News Sunday” in late December 2007.

The downturn in inpatients at the hospital since May bucks a trend that in years past saw increases in inpatient numbers from May until the latter months of the year, followed by a regular drop-off in winter months.

So can the decline in war-related inpatients — a category typically used to measure severity of injury — be attributed to the improved situation in Iraq?

“I think you could extrapolate that,” said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Adriel Lopez, executive officer of Landstuhl’s Deployed Warrior Medical Management Center.

“The only thing that doesn’t let us say that wholeheartedly is because of the normal drop-off that occurs in the winter. ... What will be interesting is as we get into the rest of January, February and March is to see if that trend continues.”

Even anecdotally, Landstuhl officials said the number of battle-injured patients at the hospital has declined in recent months.

Landstuhl’s intensive care unit is currently not seeing a lot of battle-injured patients, “which is a good thing, a wonderful thing,” said Army Lt. Col. Dawn Garcia, head nurse of the hospital’s ICU.

“It’s been gradual. In April and May, we were busy, but it’s slowly decreased since then,” she said. “We’re still getting patients, some with significant injuries.”

Landstuhl’s 146 inpatients from operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom in December is the lowest war-related inpatient total of any month since December 2003.

Despite the declining totals, war casualties treated at the hospital during the beginning of the “surge” made 2007 the second-highest year for war-associated inpatients at the hospital. The hospital treated 3,612 war-related inpatients in 2004 and saw 2,895 inpatients in 2007.

Those statistics closely mirror data on the number of U.S troops killed in Iraq in 2007. While 2007 saw the most U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003, a total of 23 Americans died there during December, making it the second-lowest monthly death toll of the war.

During 2007, both war-related inpatients at Landstuhl and U.S. troops killed in Iraq peaked in May. That month, 327 war-associated inpatients were treated at Landstuhl, and 126 American servicemembers were killed in Iraq.

The number of inpatients treated at Landstuhl from Afghanistan numbered 455 in 2007, less than one-sixth the number from Iraq during the same period.

“However there was a time in the fall, since I have been here, that there were significant injuries coming out of Afghanistan because of special operating forces there and especially in our coalition forces,” Lopez said.

“The Canadians have really been helping in Afghanistan, and we had several significant battle injuries from that coalition force that we were managing for the last quarter of 2007.”


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up