USA — Capital-area Medical Centers Set for Reorganization

WASHINGTON — With a reor­ga­ni­za­tion of units over­see­ing mil­i­tary med­i­cine in the nation­al cap­i­tal area under way, inter­im steps are in place to main­tain good care and emer­gency pre­pared­ness dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

As part of a Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure Com­mis­sion action announced in 2007, Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Cen­ter here and the Nation­al Naval Med­ical Cen­ter in Bethes­da, Md., are being inte­grat­ed into a sin­gle med­ical hub at Bethes­da.

Joint Task Force Nation­al Cap­i­tal Region Med­ical Com­mand was estab­lished to take the lead in this con­sol­i­da­tion and realign­ment. To ensure that qual­i­ty health care con­tin­ues dur­ing and after the migra­tion, task force offi­cials devel­oped the “Be Ready Now” pro­gram.

“We pro­vide plans and response to any type of inci­dent that would hap­pen either with­in the nation­al cap­i­tal region or in sup­port of U.S. North­ern Com­mand across the coun­try,” Bruce Thomp­son, deputy chief of the task force’s plans divi­sion, said in an April 16 “DoD Live” pod­cast of the “Dot Mil Docs” pro­gram.

“It can be any­thing from a hur­ri­cane, or most recent­ly, we’ve been involved in the pan­dem­ic influen­za plan­ning, or it could be a ter­ror­ist attack that could occur,” Thomp­son said. The task force also is get­ting ready to work with oth­er agen­cies at a moment’s notice. “Right now, there’s a project to devel­op a cat­a­stroph­ic inci­dent plan, which was brought up due to the earth­quake down in Haiti,” he added. “If, at some point, an event hap­pens here, we need to be pre­pared for it.”

In the event of a domes­tic health emer­gency or epi­dem­ic, for exam­ple, the task force would assist the depart­ments of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Health and Human Resources, Thomp­son said.

The task force also par­tic­i­pates in annu­al exer­cis­es such as Cap­i­tal Shield, which pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice respond­ing to emer­gen­cies with local fire depart­ments. “We have been active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing with oth­er agen­cies to pre­vent ’stove-pip­ing’ plan devel­op­ment, where plan­ning involves only a sin­gle agency, so we can look at how they respond, and then we can respond joint­ly in any type of inci­dent,” Thomp­son said.

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