Work on a new medical/dental clinic alongside an existing Medical Center at Grafenwöhr, Germany, is almost finished.

Work on a new medical/dental clinic alongside an existing Medical Center at Grafenwöhr, Germany, is almost finished. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Medical and dental staff here are preparing to move into a new combined clinic on May 1 that will provide better services for soldiers and family members.

The move will begin the second phase of a $12.5 million (10 million euro) project to expand the combined clinic by April 2007, according to data provided by Efficient Basing Grafenwöhr spokeswoman Susanne Bartsch. The project is part of a $600 million expansion of the Grafenwöhr training area that will see the base grow from a 1,000-soldier garrison with 2,000 military family members to a brigade-size facility with 4,500 active-duty soldiers and 7,000 family members, she said.

The combined clinic project involved renovating the existing 15,000-square-foot Medical Center and linking it to the new building, said the Medical Center’s chief nurse, Maj. Maria Vanterpool, 46, of Bronx, N.Y.

The renovation, which will increase the clinic’s size to about 49,000 square feet, will provide more privacy for patients, she said.

The center’s two family practice doctors, two physician assistants and five nurses are likely to be joined by two more doctors, orthopaedic physician assistants, physical therapists, two more nurses and a case manager. The center may even get an optometrist, she said.

However, the new clinic will not have in-patient care or act as a 24-hour emergency clinic. The German hospital at Weiden, a 20-minute drive from Grafenwöhr, will continue to provide those services, Vanterpool said.

Meanwhile, the dental clinic will gain state-of-the-art digital equipment when it moves from its old site, near the base commissary, to the combined clinic. When the project is finished, the dental clinic will expand from 10 chairs to 31 chairs, according to the clinic’s officer in charge, Capt. Alan Peyghambarian, 30, of Tucson, Ariz.

The changes could mean soldiers and family members at Grafenwöhr get access to dental services that they have traveled long distances to receive in the past, he said.

“We are hoping to have an oral surgeon, an orthodontist, a pediatric dentist and a periodontist. We don’t have any specialists right now. It will be much more convenient for patients who need to see specialists. Typically, if a patient needs a difficult (tooth) extraction now, they have to travel to Würzburg, which is two hours’ drive away,” he said.

The combined medical and dental clinic at Grafenwöhr follows a trend happening at other military bases and in the U.S., Vanterpool said.

“They already have a combined medical and dental clinic at Vilseck [Germany]. In the States, they are doing the same thing. Medical and dental clinics are being sited together for convenience.

For example, dental patients will be able to stop off at the base pharmacy, which will be in the new clinic, she said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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