BRAC Goals Reached, New Walter Reed Looks to Future

WASHINGTON — The day before the con­gres­sion­al­ly man­dat­ed dead­line to put all Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions into effect, the com­man­der who over­saw the clos­ing of Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Cen­ter isn’t kick­ing back with a sigh of relief.

For Navy Vice Adm. (Dr.) John M. Mate­czun, com­man­der of Joint Task Force Nation­al Cap­i­tal Region Med­ical, some of the tough­est chal­lenges are just beginning. 

Mate­czun was respon­si­ble for one of the most sweep­ing trans­for­ma­tions in mil­i­tary med­i­cine with the clo­sure of the icon­ic Wal­ter Reed hospital. 

With all its patients, staff and health care ser­vices moved to what is now known as the Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter in Bethes­da, Md., and the new Fort Belvoir Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal in Vir­ginia, he now has set his sights on his next, post-BRAC goal. 

“This is a new begin­ning,” he said. “We now have the oppor­tu­ni­ty here in the nation­al cap­i­tal region to form the first tru­ly inte­grat­ed region­al deliv­ery sys­tem with­in the mil­i­tary health system.” 

Get­ting to this point was no small feat. Since BRAC became law in 2005, 2.6 mil­lion square feet of new con­struc­tion and 472,000 square feet of ren­o­va­tions have tak­en place on the Bethes­da cam­pus and Fort Belvoir to accom­mo­date the new, expand­ed mis­sions there. 

Mean­while, the civil­ian work­forces were con­sol­i­dat­ed into one Defense Depart­ment work­force. Mate­czun said the merg­er will ben­e­fit work­ers by open­ing up more career oppor­tu­ni­ties and enabling them to trans­fer more smooth­ly between the two facilities. 

The merg­er also will also be a plus for the hos­pi­tals, he said, help­ing them bet­ter attract and retain expe­ri­enced work­ers with high­ly sought-after skills. 

With the facil­i­ties and work­force in place, both the Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter and Fort Belvoir Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal are pro­vid­ing care for the for­mer Wal­ter Reed patients. 

A con­voy of ambu­lances trans­ferred the last inpa­tients at that cen­ter to Bethes­da Aug. 27, one day ahead of sched­ule to beat the approach­ing Hur­ri­cane Irene. 

The final emer­gency-room patient at Fort Belvoir’s DeWitt Army Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter was trans­ferred to the new Fort Belvoir Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal on Aug. 31. That same day, the staff per­formed its first oper­a­tion and also deliv­ered its first baby in the new facil­i­ty, Mate­czun said. 

The last pieces of med­ical equip­ment are being moved from the old Wal­ter Reed, much of it being redis­trib­uted to the Bethes­da or Belvoir facil­i­ties. Back in 2008, BRAC plan­ners esti­mat­ed that $54 mil­lion in equip­ment would be trans­ferred, but the actu­al fig­ure exceeds $100 mil­lion, Mate­czun reported. 

With both facil­i­ties now run­ning at full-throt­tle, he said now is the time to gen­er­ate some of the effi­cien­cies BRAC was designed to provide. 

Many of those sav­ings will come through con­sol­i­dat­ed sup­port ser­vices such as human resources and facil­i­ties operations. 

While designed to improve effi­cien­cy and save mon­ey, Mate­czun said the con­sol­i­da­tion also will pro­mote patient care. 

The nature of the con­sol­i­da­tions, with high­ly spe­cial­ized care deliv­ered at Bethes­da, ensures med­ical staffs pro­vid­ing that care have suf­fi­cient patient loads to remain at the top of their game, he said. 

In addi­tion, three elec­tron­ic med­ical net­works in use at facil­i­ties with­in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area are being com­bined into one joint med­ical net­work. This, Mate­czun said, will enable providers at var­i­ous clin­ics and hos­pi­tals to more eas­i­ly access and share patient records. 

Oth­er ini­tia­tives will make it more con­ve­nient for patients to get care. For exam­ple, a con­sol­i­dat­ed appoint­ment and refer­ral cen­ter being stood up will pro­vide a user-friend­ly, stan­dard­ized way for patients to sched­ule appoint­ments at either facility. 

A major post-BRAC empha­sis is on tak­ing these efforts to the next lev­el to reach a “world-class stan­dard” in med­ical care, Mate­czun said. 

That stan­dard — man­dat­ed by Con­gress in the wake of the 2007 Wal­ter Reed scan­dal as BRAC ini­tia­tives already were under way — rais­es the bar in patient care. 

Among its rec­om­men­da­tions were the new wound­ed war­rior lodg­ing on the Bethes­da cam­pus and pri­vate hos­pi­tal rooms that weren’t part of the orig­i­nal BRAC plan. 

Sub­se­quent con­gres­sion­al rec­om­men­da­tions direct that parts of Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter not impact­ed by BRAC also be raised to this world-class standard. 

That, Mate­czun explained, involves upgrad­ing addi­tion­al build­ings on the Bethes­da cam­pus — all built or last ren­o­vat­ed before 1975. 

As part of that new stan­dard, the last of exist­ing two-patient rooms are being con­vert­ed into pri­vate rooms. 

In addi­tion, indi­vid­ual patient rooms at both Bethes­da and Fort Belvoir will soon be turned into “smart suites.” These rooms will be equipped with tech­nol­o­gy that enables care­givers to mon­i­tor patients’ vital signs elec­tron­i­cal­ly and even to rec­og­nize when a patient has got­ten out of bed. 

This tech­nol­o­gy ben­e­fits patients, too, who will be able to refer to a mon­i­tor in their room to iden­ti­fy who enters it and whether, for exam­ple, it’s a doc­tor, nurse or food-ser­vice provider. 

“It is a patient’s right to know who is in their room and what they are doing there. And this tech­nol­o­gy will allow them to do that with­out hav­ing to nec­es­sar­i­ly ques­tion any­one,” Mate­czun said. 

Mate­czun said he’s look­ing for­ward to see­ing the Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter and Fort Belvoir Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal set a new stan­dard for mil­i­tary medicine. 

“So this is our next step, mak­ing the improve­ments required in the com­pre­hen­sive mas­ter plan to pro­vide world-class care for our ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” he said. 

“We are com­mit­ted to keep­ing the covenant we have with America’s sons and daugh­ters who come home wound­ed from Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “And that is what the BRAC projects have been about. We are intent on mak­ing sure that we meet the con­gres­sion­al man­date to a world-class capac­i­ty and infra­struc­ture, both here at Bethes­da and on Fort Belvoir.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →