Yongsan opens updated hospital wing
January 10, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Outpatient clinics that provide regular check-ups, asthma treatment, cardiac tests, pediatric care and other primary health care services will open Monday in a new wing of the 121st General Hospital on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, according to officials from the 18th Medical Command.
The $39 million addition — which is connected to the existing hospital on South Post — has more exam rooms, new equipment and an improved floor plan. The move is the first of three phases intended to modernize the hospital and allow medical staff to see more patients in a more enjoyable environment, hospital staff said Friday.
The 124,000-square-foot space also will clear room in the older portion of the hospital for upcoming multimillion-dollar renovations of the emergency room, operation rooms and other hospital facilities, said Col. Brian Allgood, commander of the 18th Medical Command for all of Korea.
“We’re bringing things up to the state-of-the-art level,” Allgood said Friday of the military’s main hospital on the peninsula, which serves about 600 patients a day on average.
Parts of the hospital date back to Japanese occupation, and its last major renovation was in 1972, medical staff said.
“We were practicing in a building that had exceeded its lifespan,” said Col. Jon Wilson, deputy commander for clinical services with the 18th Medical Command and for the hospital.
Within the next two weeks, the mental health clinic and the command offices also will also move to the new wing. In the next six months, a new dining hall, intensive care unit and operating room unit will open, Wilson said.
Starting Monday, patients can expect to find their doctors and waiting rooms in a different location, but all of the clinics’ phone numbers and contact information remain the same, said Maj. Andreas Lindenberg, chief of medicine for the hospital.
Patients should park in the new parking lot, marked by a blue “121st General Hospital” sign, and enter through the new main entrance, a row of glass doors.
Inside, an information desk will be staffed to handle questions, though most people should take a left turn down the main corridor to find the check-in desk for both adult and child care.
Behind the waiting area are new exam rooms that allow doctors and nursing staff more space to usher in patients and to do any preliminary work so physicians can go from patient to patient without unnecessary delays, Lindenberg said.
“It shortens the amount of time it takes away from work or from your family when you come for health care,” Lindenberg said.
Col. Nolan Hinson, deputy commander for nursing for the 18th Medical Command, agreed.
“We’ll have more space and gain efficiency to take a patient and get them ready to see the doctor,” he said. “That will allow [the doctors] to see five or six more patients a day.”
The complex also has an Asian-style garden in an enclosed courtyard adjacent to the new dining center. The new and old portions of the hospital are connected, so the main parking lot can be used for all hospital services.
Allgood and other U.S. Forces Korea officials are going forward with the next two phases of the plan — which include major overhauls to the emergency room and the older parts of the hospital — even though nearly all staff and facilities at Yongsan Garrison are slated to move to the central part of the country in the next few years.
“Even as we go south, we’ll be using this facility for a while,” he said. “For the next four years, five years, we want a state-of-the-art facility.”
Those phases include improvements in obstetrics, opthalmology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat specialties. In the end, the hospital’s total size will increase by about 20 percent, Wilson said.