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Rhein-Main Air Base will close its medical and dental clinics Thursday — the latest step in the process to shut down the Frankfurt area base.

The 469th Medical Flight, which operated in a building just outside the gates, will open a smaller alternate medical clinic on base, Air Force officials said. Dental services, however, will no longer be provided.

The new clinic, in Building 340, will treat patients until Aug. 15. After that, two medical technicians will be on hand to treat only minor illnesses of active-duty troops. Then, starting in September, airman will have to travel 20 miles to the Darmstadt Medical Clinic, near Cambrai Fritsch Caserne, to be treated.

Arrangements have already been made to accommodate the influx of Air Force personnel at the Darmstadt clinic, where the patient load will increase by about 400, according to Jeri Chappelle, a spokeswoman for the Europe Regional Medical Command out of Heidelberg.

Family members and DOD civilians at Rhein-Main also should be following the clinic’s guidelines so medical service will not be disrupted, said Air Force Maj. Michael Holmes, 469th Medical Flight administrator. He said that the clinic has been aggressively instructing civilian patients of their options since the beginning of the year.

Now, Holmes said, it’s down to the wire and all remaining personnel have a fairly strict timeline to stick to.

“They should have already or should seriously begin thinking about taking steps to be seen at other military communities or local facilities,” said Holmes.

Because Thursday’s closure will stop all dental services and laboratory work, family member dental records should all be picked up by Thursday, Holmes said.

Any records left behind will be moved to the alternate clinic, then pushed out to Ramstein, or shredded. Active-duty dental records can remain at the clinic until the airmen permanently move from Rhein-Main.

Basically, all medical records must be picked up by Sept. 9.

For troops and their families who are permanently leaving the air base between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, it’s important to remember that records must be picked up either in person, or have a letter already in the records authorizing that someone else pick up the records.

Patients staying past September should take their records and enroll at the Darmstadt clinic. Once these last remaining troops leave Rhein-Main permanently, they must return to the Darmstadt clinic to retrieve their records.

The dramatic downsizing and eventual closure of the 469th Medical Flight is in line with the U.S. military handing the base over to the Germans in December. Most of the base operations are being moved to either Ramstein Air Base or Spangdahlem Air Base in western Germany.

Darmstadt facility will see more business

An additional 400 potential patients coming to the Darmstadt Medical Clinic as the Rhein-Main Air Base prepares to close will not make getting an appointment any more difficult, medical officials say.

A doctor who has worked at the air base for 12 years has accepted a new position at Darmstadt’s clinic, meaning her patients will get the same medical care, just in a different location.

Dr. Maria S. Barth, a local national, will join the Darmstadt clinic next month.

Barth becomes the eighth doctor at the clinic and could potentially have up to 1,500 patients under her care at one time, which easily covers the Air Force commuters, according to Jeri Chappelle, the chief of public affairs for the Europe Regional Medical Command out of Heidelberg.

The Darmstadt clinic has been continuously improving the way it does business since the beginning of the year, which adds to the easy transition of taking on more patients, Chappelle said.

Improvements have already been made for same-day appointments for troops from 7:45 to 9 a.m. Family members could schedule same-day appointments starting at 7:30 a.m. All other beneficiaries may schedule starting at 9 a.m.

For more information, call DSN 348-6263 or 348-6264 or civilian 06151-69-6263 or 06151-69-6264.

— Jessica Inigo

Stripes in 7

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