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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The 18th Medical Command is planning a second family-care center that will allow relatives to stay closer to the hospital while a patient undergoes treatment, officials said at a community health forum.

The command’s current family-care center opened 18 months ago in a former barracks near the hospital, said Maj. Richard Lindsey, chief of clinical operations. It was renovated into three rooms with a shared kitchen, dining area and laundry room.

“It’s a great service that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” Lindsay said.

Two of the three rooms at the current center are full 90 percent of the time, Lindsay said, and all are full about 50 percent of the time. Priority is given to people depending on where they have traveled from and the patient’s condition.

The new facility will be used for the command’s Storks Nest program, which allows women beyond the 38th week of pregnancy who live more than 30 minutes away from the hospital to stay there until they give birth. The hospital has four beds in one room now, but must adapt to meet regulations set by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

The Storks Nest must move by February, said Lt. Col. Mary Garr, deputy commander of administration.

The command has lobbied for years to get a Fisher House, an organization that provides $10-a- night rooms near military medical facilities allowing family members to stay close to their loved ones, Garr said. But the group has hesitated to build in Seoul because of talks about relocating Yongsan Garrison.

Started in 1990, the Fisher House program serves about 7,000 families annually. Funds come from donations and the Fisher family, philanthropists who also give scholarship money to servicemembers attending college.

At Yongsan, the cost is $10 a night for the current family-care center; the price tag for the new center has not been determined, Lindsay said. The family-care center allows people to avoid more expensive alternatives, such as the Dragon Hill Lodge or off-post hotels, Garr said.

The command is aiming for a spring opening, depending on funds.

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