By Elizabeth Casebeer, USAG Baden-Württemberg Public AffairsOctober 24, 2011
MANNHEIM, Germany - In the days after World War II until May 31, 2011, when the garrison closed, the U.S. Army Health and Dental Clinics of Mannheim provided a wide range of health care for service members, families, civilians and local nationals.
While clinics were officially deactivated during a ceremony Oct.14 at the Mannheim Sports Arena, leaders said just because military medical services are no longer available in the immediate area, community members remaining in Mannheim are not forgotten.
"While today's ceremony marks the closures of a chapter in our AMEDD [Army Medical Department] history, it does not mark the end of our health care responsibility to this community. As we transitioned your care to the Heidelberg Health Care and Coleman clinic, I am certain you have continued to receive the quality (and) respectful care you have been accustomed to," said Col. Telita Crosland, MEDDAC Heidelberg commander.
Many of the Mannheim staff transitioned to the health care teams in Heidelberg. "You will see some familiar faces, so please know the closure of the Mannheim health clinic does not mark the end of the relationship with this community," Crosland said.
The medical relationship between the local national community and the United States was cemented when the Army recognized its need for state-of-the art health care facilities in order to maintain the readiness of its fighting force, said guest speaker Professor Christian Führer, course director for marketing at Cooperative State University Baden-Württemberg Mannheim.
The U.S. Army Dispensary and Dental Clinic Mannheim opened its doors on March 15, 1956.
"The new dispensary offered a wide range of outpatient services, including radiology, physical therapy, optometry and a full-fledged pharmacy.
"At the time of its opening, the dispensary also served as a medical supply issue point for all dispensaries and aid stations in the Mannheim area," said Führer, who is writing a book about the U.S. military in Mannheim.
From the 1970s to 1980s, the community averaged about 8,000 service members as patients, not including family members.
By the end of the draft in 1973, about 11,000 patients were seen each month by 16 physicians and 12 dentists, Führer said.
While the amount of patients shrank recently to about 20,000 per year, that kind of partnership is what Mannheim Health Clinic commander Lt. Col. Rachele Smith finds difficult to let go of.
"Since the late 1940s, we have touched thousands of lives and have improved the overall health, medical readiness and resiliency of our community. Today is an opportunity for us to celebrate those partnerships and the lives we have touched.
"This community and our clinic have been like family to us and (to) so many others. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with you and (provide) safe, quality healthcare. A part of us will always stay in Mannheim. Together, in collaboration with our tenant units and our host nation partners, we have truly lived up to our motto, 'strive for excellence.'"