It was standing-room only Tuesday inside the lobby of the new Ireland Army Health Clinic as soldiers and civilians gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the facility, which was called “the most recent and monumental upgrade in Ireland history.”

“What you see here is a testament to a nation and an army taking care of those who bravely and voluntarily serve,” Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Knighten said during the event.

“The opening of this new facility marks an important moment in the history of Army medicine and the Fort Knox community. The structure announces the unwavering commitment to readiness and health for service members and family members.”

The $58 million, 101,373-square-foot facility was touted as having state-of-the-art features and upgrades, including an exterior comprised of local brick, stone and glass. The landscape features more than 50 trees, shrubs and low maintenance plants and a semi-private outdoor physical therapy garden. The interior has cool LED lighting, motion activation and is designed to create an environment conducive to healing.

The clinic officially opens today.

A two-story glass cur­tain wall connects pa­tients and staff with nature. It also is blast resistant and controlled with motorized shades.

According to Knight­en, the new facility attain­ed Gold Lead­er­ship in Energy and En­vi­ron­ment Design cer­ti­fi­cation through high performance, energy conservation, open design, low-maintenance plants, materials, air quality, storm water management, recycling and pollution control.

Clinical highlights featured in the December 2019 issue of Army Healthcare, noted the Ireland Army Health Clinic program offers a range of health care services, including primary care exam rooms and provider offices, reception areas, waiting rooms, physical therapy, a large behavioral health suite, specialty clinic services — consisting of optometry, allergy and hearing conservation — as well as radiology, pharmacy, labs and other support services.

“I am truly impressed with this state-of-the-art facility and I know it will serve our patients well for decades to come just as the former building did,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Place, com­mand­ing general of Re­gion­al Health Com­mand Atlantic.

Place went on to praise the dedicated military and civilian staff who he said, “everyday strive to provide the highest level of care for the Fort Knox facility.” He said that’s what makes Ireland Army Health Clinic a treasure.

“It’s truly a great day to be a soldier and medic in the U.S. Army,” he said.

Maj. Gen. John Evans Jr., comm­an­­ding general of U.S. Army Cadet Co­m­­mand and Fort Knox, said the chief of staff in the Army tells them consistently winning matters because should deterrents fail, the American people expect our Army to win and win decisively.

“And in order to do that we have to have fit, ready and resilient soldiers each and every day,” he said, noting the new facility will assist with that effort.

“This is going to be a place for soldiers to be well, to get well and to be strong. I know that because this is Fort Knox and strength starts here.”

The new health facility at 200 Brule St. is actually the fourth to have served Fort Knox.

According to a history provided in the event’s program, in 1918, the year of Camp Knox’s birth, the base hospital, a World War I cantonment building, was completed on the present site of Lindsey Golf Course near the Gold Vault. The hospital burned down in 1928 and medical services were relocated to the World War I guesthouse on Bullion Boulevard.

The history said a brick hospital, located on “E” Street – which is now 1st Calvary Division Road – was built in 1934 and served as the Fort Knox Post Hospital until 1942, when two mobilization hospitals were constructed.

According to the his­tory, both hospital complexes were located along Dixie Street in the area now occupied by the dependent school facilities and the Morand Manor housing area. A multi-storied concrete structure, Ireland Army Community Hospital, named in honor of Maj. Gen. Merritte W. Ireland, the 23rd surgeon general of the Army, was completed in 1957.

Due to its age, Evans said the former building is scheduled for demolition.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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