June 7, 2012

Fort Irwin breaks ground on replacement hospital

By Ken Drylie

Army leaders, contractors, and community members break ground on a new hospital at Fort Irwin May 30. The hospital will replace the current Weed Army Community Hospital and is set for completion in under three years.

The National Training Center and Fort Irwin broke ground for a new hospital to replace the aging Weed Army Community Hospital May 30.

“This ground breaking ceremony sets into motion the process that will ultimately lead to a new, more modern, energy efficient Army hospital that will allow us to provide superior medical care to all the beneficiaries here at Fort Irwin and the surrounding communities,” said Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, commander of Western Regional Medical Command.

The new facility will serve the 15,000 active-duty service members, family members, and retirees who are stationed at or live on Fort Irwin and the surrounding High Desert area.

Besides being a state-of-the-art medical facility, the hospital will boast a carbon-neutral efficiency.  To qualify as a carbon-neutral facility, the hospital must generate more power than it uses.  A “farm” of solar panels in the open desert adjacent to the hospital will convert the sun’s light to electricity.  The new hospital will be the first carbon-neutral hospital in the Department of Defense.

Though the hospital will draw on the local grid during the night, it will more than make up for its electricity consumption by harnessing the power of sunlight.

The hospital will also support brigade-sized units that rotate in and out of the NTC for training. Rotating units have been trained at the NTC for tours to Iraq and are being prepared for deployments to Afghanistan or for any future contingency. The installation conducts about 10 training rotations per year.

“This hospital is another reflection of the National Training Center as well as the Department of Defense, commitment to providing critical services to our Soldiers and families, while maintaining the integrity of the environment,” said Col Kurt J. Pinkerton, Fort Irwin Garrison commander.

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