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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The U.S. military in South Korea is moving to ensure that military family members rushed long-distance to its big hospital in Seoul are given transportation back to their home when the time comes.

The Army’s 18th Medical Command currently is working up recommendations on steps to ensure that family members released from the 121 General Hospital will be provided the transportation, and, when necessary, proper clothing and other assistance needed to get back to their home installation.

The recommendation process was set into motion after Gen. B.B. Bell, U.S. Forces Korea commander, visited Area IV and heard about a medically evacuated family member who upon release from the hospital had to coordinate transportation and clothing without assistance.

Details for the formal recommendations still were being worked out, but the hospital already has taken steps to see that medevac patients set for release have the needed transportation and clothing, Capt. Michael Shardinger, 18th Medical Command spokesman, said Friday.

Shardinger said in addition to the 18th Medical Command’s recommendations, representatives from USFK’s personnel, legal and other branches also were to review the matter.

The USFK surgeon then has until Friday to furnish a final report to Bell.

During Bell’s visit to Area IV, the Daegu-Waegwan-Busan region in the southeast of the peninsula, he heard community members’ concerns and later had posted on the USFK Web site a list of issues he wants addressed, including the patient transportation matter.

“Recently,” says an entry on the Web site, “a family member was evacuated by air for emergency medical treatment … from Daegu to the 121 Hospital. Upon release, this person, still recovering and without proper clothes, was left to coordinate transportation back to their home station on their own.”

“This needs to be fixed,” the entry says. “A medevacced patient should be provided transportation to his/her home station after receiving care.”

Shardinger said the 121 routinely assists patients — active-duty personnel or civilians — in lining up transportation after a scheduled hospital stay. But so far no policy has been in place assuring such help for those rushed in on an emergency basis by helicopter or ambulance, he said.

Meanwhile, said Shardinger, the 121 already has taken its cue from Bell and has taken steps to provide medevac patients the needed help at discharge.

“We’ve been doing it since he told us to do it so it’s already been happening, as necessary,” he said.

“We don’t expect for them to coordinate for clothing, travel and lodging upon discharge,” said Shardinger. “We will assist them with all those procedures, those needs.”


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