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Military hospital's workload doubles

Landstuhl sees more wounded since Falluja operation began


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Medics load an injured American soldier onto a helicopter Saturday in Baghdad, Iraq.
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The wounded are evacuated to Germany.

U.S. says only pockets of insurgents still pose risk in Falluja.

CNN's Nic Robertson travels with U.S. Marines through Falluja.
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LANDSTUHL, Germany (CNN) -- Battle casualties received by doctors at this American military hospital in Germany have more than doubled since the Falluja operation in Iraq began, the facility's commander told reporters Sunday.

Col. Rhonda Cornum said more than half the 419 patients received at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center last week were from the Army and just over 40 percent were Marines. Nearly 200 of those patients have been sent back to the United States for further treatment, she said.

"I cannot tell you which ones were injured in Falluja," she said, adding that 95 percent of the patients came from Iraq and more than half were wounded in battle. Most of the rest of the patients came from Afghanistan.

"Normally, 25 percent are battle injuries," she said. "Normally, we average 32 patients a day. In the last week, we've had an average of 70."

During such intense periods, Cornum said, wounded forces have been moved from the battlefield to Landstuhl in as few as 12 hours.

Landstuhl, the largest American hospital outside the United States, is next to Ramstein Air Base, headquarters of the U.S. Air Force in Europe. About 110 physicians and 250 nurses work at the hospital, according to its Web site.

Busiest week since April

It was the busiest week for the hospital since April, when U.S. forces last tried to take Falluja, Cornum said. The colonel said the hospital increased the number of available intensive care beds to accommodate the need.

Lt. Col. Todd Hess said the Landstuhl facility had seen no change in the type of injuries in the past week. He said the number of mental health evaluations might have been slightly lower than usual.

Cornum said mental health professionals and chaplains were available for patients and staff, who could be affected by "day after day seeing these kids come in who could be the same age as their own kids."

A Marine commander said Sunday that U.S. and Iraqi forces have "liberated the city of Falluja" but that "isolated pockets" of insurgents remain in the restive city -- and have increased their activity elsewhere in the country.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 insurgents have been killed in the weeklong assault, Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler said. The American death toll rose to 38, with six Iraqi forces also reported killed.

Falluja was considered an insurgent command-and-control center for the rest of the country and a base for Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror network.

Military officials said 3,000 to 5,000 insurgents may have been inside the city, but they acknowledge many slipped away amid widespread reports of a planned offensive.

In April, Marines attacked Falluja after four U.S. private security contractors were killed and mutilated. The ensuing battles led to many deaths.

The U.S.-led forces pulled back and established an indigenous Falluja brigade to restore peace to the city, but in the summer, the brigade fell apart and insurgents solidified control there.


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