LANDSTUHL, Germany -- Landstuhl Regional Medical Center conducted a change of command ceremony at LRMC headquarters where Col. Michael A. Weber relinquished command of LRMC to Col. Andrew L. Landers, May 20.
The ceremony welcomed Landers as the 35th commander of LRMC, the largest American military medical center outside of the United States. LRMC plays a strategic role as the sole evacuation and tertiary referral center for five combatant commands and is the sole American College of Surgeons verified Level III Trauma Center outside of the United States.
“I have very much to be grateful for, the dedication and love of our mission to conserve and build the strength of the Joint Warfighter and their families is palpable to the entire triservice multicomponent, government, civilian and local national workforce,” said Weber. “(LRMC) can be summarized by heroes taking care of heroes and their heroic families.”
During Weber’s tenure, LRMC underwent various challenges and milestones including but not limited to a successful survey by The Joint Commission, verifying the hospital’s commitment to its center of gravity: quality and safety, preparing the hospital for potential mass casualty incidents, and developing and sustaining an effective COVID-19 response effort. In addition, LRMC troops executed three training exercises advancing Individual Critical Tasks List (ICTL) objectives, which are instrumental to overall readiness.
“Over the last two years, (Weber) has left an indelible mark on (LRMC) and sustained the tradition of excellence that has distinguished (LRMC) for over 67 years,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson, commanding general, Regional Health Command Europe and command surgeon for U.S. Army Europe. “As LRMC Commander, he created and executed a strategic vision that ensured the delivery of professional, reliable, and innovative care by a team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians, all devoted to excellence.”
During command, Weber was instrumental in successfully implementing isolation plans for Service Members affected by COVID-19, developing a comprehensive inpatient bed expansion plan, and appropriating medical personal and equipment to enhance LRMC’s medical capability to treat and testing a 100,000-person beneficiary population, according to Thompson. Thompson also lauded the hospital’s virtual health program which expanded under Weber, preparing the program to expand from 6,000 patient encounters in 2019 to over 24,000 the following year.
Under Weber's command, LRMC also conducted more than 40,000 COVID-19 individuals tested at its COVID Screening Clinic, 141,000 COVID-19 tests analyzed at LRMC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services, over 400 patients recovered in a convalescent barracks and over 140 of the sickest COVID-19 patients from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East were successfully treated by LRMC medical staff at LRMC’s COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit.
Landers previously served as the supervisory assistant deputy for Health Affairs for the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) before joining the LRMC team. Before that, he commanded the 549th Hospital Center and the Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital at Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea.
“As you might expect, (Landers) has excelled in an impressive variety of leadership, staff, and clinical jobs that render him more than prepared to assume this critical role and continue the tradition of excellence that defines (LRMC),” said Thompson, the reviewing officer for the ceremony.
“To the men and women of the LRMC team: I'm incredibly proud and humbled to be your commander and I promise you my best efforts every day, personal and professional readiness will be our mantra,” said Landers. “We will be prepared to execute our mission at a no-fail rate, all while maintaining a focus on high quality, compassionate and safe care, and that our job is indeed to serve others.”
Landers made clear the importance of military medicine with a personal anecdote describing his grandfather’s own tribulation and experience with the military health system, more than half a century ago.
“As a member of the Doolittle Raid, (Landers’ grandfather) was a prisoner of war for 40 months. Thirty-eight months of those he spent in solitary confinement and extreme torture. On the team that parachuted in to rescue them, there was a military physician and that physician ensured that his life was saved,” said Landers, a native of Camden, Arkansas. “In the military health care system, he survived and continued to thrive following the war. I cannot say enough about the health care that he received, what it did for him and how it inspired me and continues to inspire me today.”