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RAF LAKENHEATH — Construction is a funny thing to those uninvolved. It can seem to the average passer-by that one day something isn’t there, and the next day a finished product appears. Maybe folks just get used to the clanging cacophony as part of their daily routine, but it does take time for renovations and new buildings to rise.

Folks at the 48th Medical Group, the unit that oversees the base’s hospital, a facility that serves most Air Force community members in the U.K., are asking for people’s patience in the coming months as crews embark on an eight-project, $11.5 million effort to centralize and modify the medical facilities.

“It’ll be one-stop shopping,” chief facility manager Glenn King said of the renovations, which are expected to be finished by April 2008.

Funding for the various new clinics was awarded over the past few years and grouped together in the name of efficiency, King said.

The first phase, set to start in the coming weeks, will involve tearing down and rebuilding about 70 percent of the first floor of the main hospital building, King said.

When all is said and done, hopefully around November, the ground floor will host new pediatric, physical medicine and immunization clinics, he said.

The move has been years in the making.

For nearly the past 10 years, pediatrics and other services have operated out of temporary facilities right across the street from the main hospital building, said Lt. Col. Rex Langston, of the 48th Medical Support Squadron. While the facilities have served their functions, they haven’t been ideal.

Due to funding issues and other constraints, pediatrics and other services stayed in those facilities for too long, Langston said.

“Those things should have been gone a long time ago,” he said of the temporary quarters. “You don’t always have the funding available when you would like it.”

Also on the ground floor, the dining hall will be torn down and replaced with a smaller facility. Langston said the current set-up wasn’t getting much use anyway, and the kitchen will still feed patients staying in the hospital.

“It’s probably a fourth or a fifth the size of the current space,” he said of the new dining hall schematic. “We don’t consider it a big loss.”

Once the first floor is wrapped later this year, construction will commence on a new optometry and ophthalmology clinic, as well as a consolidated clinic for baby delivery.

Mothers delivering will be able to do so and recover in one location instead of being moved around the hospital, Langston said.

The delivery clinic’s capacity will go down from 14 to 10 beds, but the quality and services will be higher, he said.

A new roof and blast-resistant windows also will be installed as part of the overall project, Langston said.

While patients may have to contend with the buzz and whir of construction noise during the renovations, services will continue uninterrupted, he said.

“Please bear with us during construction,” King said. “The gain will be worth the grind.”

A clinical breakdown

The main building at RAF Lakenheath hospital is about to undergo a yearlong, $11.5 million renovation.

First-floor projects

8,000-square-foot pediatric clinic

3,500-square-foot physical medicine clinic

1,800-square-foot immunization clinic

1,600-square-foot force health clinic

Expected completion date: November 2007

Second-floor projects:

4,500-square-foot optometry/ophthalmology clinic

10,600-square-foot labor, delivery, recovery postpartum clinic

Expected completion date: April 2008

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