***image1***Col. Rhonda Cornum relinquished command of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to Col. James M. Francis Thursday morning at a ceremony held on the Landstuhl Parade Field.
It was an emotional ceremony for Colonel Cornum, who along with her husband, Col. Kory Cornum, orthopedic surgeon and 435th Medical Squadron commander, will leave a place she saw go from a sleepy medical facility to the forefront of the war on terrorism.
“This has been the best tour of my 27-year career,” she said. “I have been a part of a really important mission and contributed to the welfare of patients and their families.”
An urologist by trade, Colonel Cornum worked on multiple fronts – as medical center commander, surgeon, and distinguished visitor guide for congressmen, service secretaries and ministers of defense. The latter being the catalyst for receiving federal funds. Those funds have gone to improvements such as air conditioners for the patient wards.
Thanks to her efforts, Landstuhl will see more integration with the Air Force. Eventually, primary care will be done on Ramstein, with specialized care performed at the center. A modernized patient tower also has been planned. If approved, it will house many of the different wards. The saved space can be converted into much-needed parking.
Colonel Cornum will serve as a U.S. Army Forces Command surgeon in Fort McPherson, Ga.
“I’d like to be remembered as someone who took good care of patients and took good care of the people who worked here,” she said.
Her successor, Colonel Francis, former chief of medicine, assumes command on an interim basis. The gastroentologist will maintain a certain amount of clinic hours to care for his patients while guiding Landstuhl until a permanent replacement is named. Colonel Francis was first stationed at Landstuhl in 1993 and has seen six change of commands.
“However brief my tenure as commander is, to hold the flag is quite an honor,” he said. “It feels good that someone thought I was up to the job.”
Colonel Francis said the outgoing commander prepared the hospital to handle any situation.
“She was able to take this place and mold it to where we can handle anything that is thrown at us,” he said. “When the stream of patients began arriving, she got the organization to adopt the mindset that this is now our typical business day. It’s one of her greatest achievements.”