Late Breaking News
A Sea Change for Military Medicine: Walter Reed Joins Navy Medical Center in Bethesda Cont.
Friends, Patients and Medical Personnel Say Goodbye to WRAMC
Over its 102-year history, WRAMC has not only cared for troops but also presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey have paid visits to troops there.
Army leaders, patients and staff gathered on the grounds of WRAMC in July to celebrate its rich history and mark the closure of the medical facility.
“These doors may close, the address may change but the name, legacy and most importantly the work and the healing will endure,” McHugh said at the closing ceremony in July.
During the ceremony, WRAMC flags were folded and symbolically placed in black cases signifying the end of the unit. Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, MD, who recounted beginning his active duty career on the WRAMC campus, told the audience he had full faith and trust that the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center “will proudly build upon the Walter Reed legacy.”
Walter Reed Health Care System’s commander, Col. Norvell Coots, told reporters at that ceremony that the move to build the new medical center was about what was best for the patients.
“When you look at Walter Reed, we are 113 acres here in the middle of Washington DC, with 72 buildings, many dating back to the beginning of the 20th century,” he said. “There is no room to expand to meet the changing demands of the complexity of the warriors we have now and the equipment needs as medical science changes, but over at Bethesda there was land to build on.”
Sidebar: A new feature of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Located on the third floor of one of the new buildings of the medical center, its services include infusion therapy, medical oncology, surgical oncology, prostate, gynecology, breast care and breast imaging, among others.
This one-of-its-kind center in DoD houses all cancer services together, so that patients do not have to go to different buildings or facilities for care, Col. Craig Shriver, WRNMMC interim director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and chief of Breast Center told U.S. Medicine.
“If you have one unit of medical oncology over there on the campus and surgical oncology over here on the campus, and the breast center is here, and down there is radiology, and the patient is traveling around getting various consultations, [then] treatment really is not patient-centered care,” he said.
The center combines the Cancer Centers of Excellence at WRAMC and NNMC.
“It is sort of one of those situations where two plus two equals more than four because it now frees up people to provide much more delivery of care, while also gaining a lot of efficiencies for DoD, in terms for reducing duplication of effort on administrative and other events,” added Shriver.
Acting Deputy Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Army Lt. Col. Christopher Gallagher said, now that the WRAMC clinical trials research program has moved to the new medical center, patients who may have been initially seen, treated or evaluated at NNMC will no longer have to travel back and forth for a research trial that was offered at WRAMC. In addition, the hematology and oncology stem cell transplant service at WRAMC is in the new cancer center.
Shriver said the center also includes the only breast-specific MRI in the DoD, he said.
“The positives to that is that it is configured much better for patient safety and comfort,” he said. “You don’t have to change out the mechanics of the machine. If you have an MRI machine looking at knees, spines, brains and breasts, you have to change the coil and the configuration of the machine and the software. This is configured only for breasts.”