USFK opens new wing at Yongsan's 121st General Hospital
January 23, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON — Existing medical facilities and equipment will continue to improve in the next few years, even as U.S. Forces Korea plans to consolidate its troops to the central part of the peninsula, according to the top military official in South Korea.
“We’re not going to delay the improvement of the medical facilities, neither here in Yongsan nor across the peninsula, because we can’t,” USFK commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte said Friday morning during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new wing of the 121st General Hospital. “Our families deserve that.”
LaPorte and about 200 servicemembers, medical personnel and South Korean contractors gathered Friday to officially open the $39 million hospital addition.
Out-patient services began seeing patients in the new wing nearly two weeks ago, and since then, the mental health department and the administration offices have moved into the 124,000-square-foot space.
On Jan. 31, patients records will move to a section of the new wing, adjacent to the hospital’s atrium. In a couple of months, a new suite of operating rooms and an intensive care unit will open, hospital officials said.
The new wing is the first phase of a three-phase plan to improve the aging hospital, which dates back to the Japanese occupation and saw its last renovation in 1972.
The improvements come, however, as USFK plans to move most of its forces — including nearly all of Yongsan’s offices and services — southward to the Pyongtaek area in the next few years. Despite that, LaPorte said Friday, improvements at the hospital and in other health facilities should not wait.
“You know, we talk about transformation of United States Forces Korea,” he said. “And I’m here to tell you, we are going to transform. But it doesn’t mean that we are going to reduce our standards or limit the services that we provide to the USFK family. This is evidence of it. And it’s evidence that we’re going to commit more resources, to ensure that we have quality patient care for all our servicemembers, family members, civilians and retirees.”
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on the second phase of the project, which will include new overnight hospital rooms, research labs, X-ray facilities and an emergency room.