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Landstuhl hospital employee investigated over suspected threat to blood supply

An Army medic sorts through blood samples for prescreening during a Walking Blood Bank training program at Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 21, 2017. Service members learned how they can donate blood in a deployed setting when blood supply is unavailable. The Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers are with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Laboratory Department, and Blood Donor Centers at Fort Gordon, Ga., Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.. (Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko/U.S. Marine Corps)
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An employee at the U.S. military’s main hospital in Europe is under investigation for potentially endangering its blood supplies, military medical officials said Monday.

“Landstuhl Regional Medical Center was notified of a potential threat to its blood supply from a current employee,” Gino Mattorano, a spokesman for Regional Health Command Europe, said in a statement. Hospital leaders took immediate steps to ensure the safety of its blood supply, patients and staff, he said.

“The employee has been removed from duties. The hospital commander reported the matter to law enforcement for appropriate investigation and action,” Mattorano said.

The hospital did not provide details about the nature of the suspected threat or say who is under investigation.

The matter came to the attention of the hospital on Dec. 11, Mattorano said.

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“Our patients, staff, and community can rest assured that at no time have any of them been at risk,” he said.

However, the hospital did not explain how it could guarantee that no patients were ever put at risk, citing an investigation.

“Due to an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, we cannot provide additional details about the alleged threat,” Mattorano said.

The medical center’s staff of about 2,400, which includes outlying clinics, comprises 43 percent Army active-duty and reserve soldiers, 12 percent Air Force personnel and 45 percent Army civilians and local nationals, spokeswoman Gia E. Oney said.

The medical center is the European home to the Armed Services Blood Program, which collects blood and other blood products at donation centers at up to three mobile drives throughout Europe each week. Its blood is used throughout U.S. European Command, Africa Command and Central Command.

Landstuhl also serves as a trauma center for U.S. troops injured in conflict zones. Troops hurt in Afghanistan as well as Africa often stop at Landstuhl before moving on to the United States for more care.

Since 2001, more than 95,000 troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have received treatment at the hospital.

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In 2017, the hospital treated 488 patients from Afghanistan and has seen 500 patients from that country so far this year, hospital spokeswoman Stacy Sanning said earlier this month. The numbers include battle wounded, injured and ill patients, both inpatient and outpatient, Sanning said.

At least one U.S. Green Beret was medically evacuated to Landstuhl following a deadly bombing in central Afghanistan in late November.

Landstuhl is also the primary military hospital for thousands of servicemembers stationed at Ramstein Air Base and several nearby Army bases.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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