Walter Reed Enters Final Phase with Patient Moves

WASHINGTON — About 200 out­pa­tient wound­ed war­riors are expect­ed to move from Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Cen­ter here this week­end to the near­by Nation­al Naval Med­ical Cen­ter in Bethes­da, Md., as the two hos­pi­tals move clos­er to becom­ing one.
More than 100 inpa­tients will move from Wal­ter Reed’s wards to Bethes­da by ambu­lance Aug. 28, and the flag will be low­ered for good at the 102-year-old Army hos­pi­tal.
Also as part of the changes in mil­i­tary health care facil­i­ties in the nation­al cap­i­tal region man­dat­ed by the Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure Act of 2005, some of Wal­ter Reed’s func­tions, patients and staff are mov­ing to the new­ly expand­ed DeWitt Army Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal on Fort Belvoir, Va.
After the Army and Navy hos­pi­tals merge, the Bethes­da cam­pus will be renamed as Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter.
Wal­ter Reed’s era of car­ing for pri­vates to pres­i­dents has spanned both world wars, the Kore­an con­flict, Viet­nam and the return of pris­on­ers of war, and the decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At a recent tran­si­tion cer­e­mo­ny, mil­i­tary med­ical lead­ers reflect­ed on Wal­ter Reed’s his­to­ry as the Army’s flag­ship of med­i­cine.
“It is bit­ter­sweet that we are mark­ing an end­ing to mark a new begin­ning at Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter,” said Army Col. Norvell V. “Van” Coots, com­man­der of Wal­ter Reed’s health care sys­tem. “You can go any­where in the world, and … peo­ple who don’t speak Eng­lish know the words ‘Wal­ter Reed.’ To me, that’s how you define ‘icon­ic.’ ”
Built for 80 inpa­tients in 1909 under a sin­gle roof in a Geor­gian-brick build­ing, the for­mer Wal­ter Reed Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal even­tu­al­ly became the bustling med­ical cam­pus it is today, with 72 build­ings on a 113-acre plot of land, close­ly sur­round­ed by a neigh­bor­hood in the upper-north­west quad­rant of the nation’s cap­i­tal.
“[There was] no room to expand and meet the chang­ing demands of the com­plex­i­ty of the wound­ed war­riors,” Coots said. “The room was found on the grounds of the naval hos­pi­tal in Bethes­da,” he said.
Stand­ing ready for Wal­ter Reed’s patients are the new­ly ded­i­cat­ed Wound­ed War­riors Bar­racks and Wound­ed War­riors Com­plex, ded­i­cat­ed two weeks ago at Bethes­da.
Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomak­er, Army sur­geon gen­er­al and a for­mer Wal­ter Reed com­man­der, called the tran­si­tion a time to cel­e­brate the “his­to­ry of this great cam­pus, and to cel­e­brate unques­tion­able high-qual­i­ty care” in the course of its lengthy his­to­ry.
Navy Rear Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, Nation­al Naval Med­ical Cen­ter com­man­der, said he looks for­ward to the qual­i­ty of care the merg­er will provide. 

“We rec­og­nize, as team­mates, to … take Wal­ter Reed and the Nation­al Naval Med­ical Cen­ter and forge [an] inte­grat­ed staff and facil­i­ties to become the new Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter at Bethes­da,” he said. “The syn­er­gy and part­ner­ship that that cre­ates will [pro­vide] the high­est, most pris­tine medicine.” 

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

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