By Christine June, U.S. Army Garrison, KaiserslauternOctober 18, 2006
MIESAU, Germany (Army News Service, Oct. 18, 2006) - Ending its almost eight-year run as the last of its kind, the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital became the 212th Combat Support Hospital Oct. 16 on Miesau Army Depot in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
"You can be assured that if you are wounded on the battlefield and you make it to the 212th CSH, you will live. That's how great Army medicine is, and that's how well equipped and confident the Soldiers of the 212th CSH are," said Col. Angel Lugo, the last 212th MASH and first 212th CSH commander, during the conversion ceremony.
The mobile medical unit was made famous by the TV comedy, "M*A*S*H."
"When you mention the word 'MASH,' the American public quickly associates it with a field hospital that saves lives on the battlefield, but our Soldiers are not like those TV characters," Lugo said. "Our Soldiers are professionals on the battlefield, and our doctors and nurses are focused on taking care of those who are wounded or injured on the battlefield."
The 212th's conversion involves more than $5 million worth of the latest medical equipment and almost doubled the staff from about130 personnel to more than 250. The conversion is a part of the Army Medical Department's Medical Reengineering Initiative, and mirrors the Department of Defense's transformation to brigade combat teams.
"The CSH is a 248-bed hospital, but we can take an 84-bed or 44-bed piece out of it so we can be very light and mobile and be far forward and take care of Soldiers on the battlefield," said Brig. Gen. David Rubenstein, Europe Regional Medical Command commanding general.
The CSH's 84-bed field hospital can also be expanded by a stateside Reserve unit with an additional 164 beds. If needed, the CSH can grow even larger.
"And if the Army needed us to be bigger and cover a large area, they just give us our 164 beds or plug and play another organization like ours - that's the beauty of a transformed modular medical force," said Lugo, whose last assignment was as the Office of The Surgeon General's MRI program director, where he gained insight on the lessons learned by watching other unit conversions.
The CSH will also offer more medical services to Soldiers on the battlefield.
"Normally, a MASH just had the intensive surgical capabilities without primary care - no pediatricians, no OBGYNs (obstetrics and gynecology), no internal medicine, no family practice," said Maj. Soo Lee Davis, 212th CSH executive officer. "A CSH already has that built into it, so it prevents you from having to task-organize right before you get to the deployed mission."
The 212th MASH's last deployment was to Pakistan, for example, Before the unit could deploy they had to gather specialized equipment and professionals from other hospitals throughout Europe.
"Now, we don't have to do that. They are already a part of the 212th CSH, so when we get the deployment order, we take our own people and equipment, and we don't have to task-organize as much," said Davis.
Specialty care and three Intermediate Care Wards will allow the CSH to hold patients for one to three days.
"We are a much stronger Army if we can treat Soldiers in the battlefield for a couple of days and return them to their units instead of evacuating them out of theater," said Rubenstein.