February 22, 2007

The Wait is Over: Fort Benning Opens $5.6 Million Medical Clinic

By Mick Walsh, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.

Feb. 22--Col. Margaret Rivera really was keeping count when asked how long she'd been waiting for Fort Benning's $5.6 million consolidated troop medical clinic to open its doors.

Without hesitation, the commander of Martin Army Community Hospital smiled and said, "597 days."

Ask Brig. Gen. Donald Bradshaw, a former MACH commander the same question, and he'll reply "four years."

The idea of building such an outpatient health care facility on Main Post originated on Bradshaw's watch; its grand opening on Wednesday came on Rivera's.

Bradshaw, commander of the Southeast Regional Medical Command and the Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta since leaving Fort Benning in 2005, and Rivera took part in the gala ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 27,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic that can handle just about anything shy of a major trauma event.

"It's a huge leap forward for Benning's medical community," said Bradshaw, shortly before he and Rivera escorted guests, including post commander Maj. Gen. Walt Wojdakowski, through the building.

"Actually, we've been open for patients since Monday," Rivera said. "This building replaces two outdated clinics on this side of post. It's an extremely important facility, capable of handling most medical needs of our soldiers."

The clinic, located on Sightseeing Road near the new headquarters of the 11th Infantry Regiment, will provide medical services to include sick call, primary care, audiology, pharmacy, physical therapy, digital radiology and minor procedures.

"We'll also be providing flight physicals here," said Elizabeth Ryles, an 18-year health care veteran. "This is such a wonderful facility for us."

Ryles will be one of 40 staff members at the clinic. Ultimately, that number will grow to almost 60.

While work on the clinic is complete, there are plans for an 8,000-square-foot addition sometime in 2008. Another clinic will be built in the Harmony Church area because of expansion due to Base Realignment and Closure commission decisions.

The clinic will be open to all Main Post soldiers, especially members of the 11th and 29th Infantry Regiments, the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, the 11th Engineer Battalion, the Military Police Battalion, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and the 75th Ranger Regiment.


Copyright (c) 2007, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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