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Last patients move from Walter Reed to future national military medical center
BETHESDA, Md. - The last remaining inpatients
at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are transferred
by ambulance to the National Naval Medical Center,
Bethesda, Aug. 27. The transfer time was changed
from the original time due to the approaching effects
of Hurricane Irene. More than 100 inpatients moved
from Walter Reed's wards to Bethesda and the flag
was lowered for good at the 102-year-old Army
hospital. The changes to military health care facilities
in the national capital region was mandated by the
Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005. (U.S.
Navy photo/Released)

Last Patients Move from Walter Reed to Future National Military Medical Center

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. - The last patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) were transported to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, Md., Aug. 27.

A total of 18 patients, four of which were in critical care, departed WRAMC around 7 a.m. By 9 a.m., all patients were moved and checked into the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).

NNMC Commander Rear Adm. Matthew Nathan said to those involved in the planning leading up to this day that they are a part of history.

"This is a historic day," said Nathan. "This is the culmination of 102 years of Walter Reed service, blending and integrating into the service of the National Naval Medical Center. Now we're taking the best of both practices."

At the conclusion of the move, Joint Task Force CapMed Commander Vice Adm. John Mateczun discussed the vision of the department for the integration of the two facilities.

When it came to planning for this new venture, the goal in mind, during the last several years, was to take these two facilities and provide the same capabilities, said Mateczun.

"What we've been able to do is put capital investment into the infrastructure, so we achieve a world class infrastructure," said Mateczun. "The department has been intent on making sure we're able to provide world class standard and keep our covenant both with wounded warriors that come back from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their families."

WRAMC Commander Col. Van Coots noted that the transition was almost flawless.

In the weeks leading up to the move, patients and their families, who were identified as those who would be moving, were told that WRAMC staff would be moving right along with them, which helped put their minds at ease, said Coots.

"It was such a smooth transition today," said Coots. "We've been identifying patients over the last two weeks and had informed families about the transition, what they could expect here, letting them know we're not abandoning them."

Coots went on to note the amount of pride in not only what WRAMC's achieved in the last 102 years, but also what they have achieved together with the flagship of Navy Medicine here to create the future of the military health care system.

Due to weather conditions with Hurricane Irene, the patient move, originally scheduled for Aug. 28, was moved to Aug. 27.

"We have always been an agile organization. They have deployed hundreds of personnel at the drop of a hat to human assistance relief missions or disaster relief missions, so we're pretty adept at having to change plans suddenly and reconfiguring logistics," said Nathan. "I'm very proud of the crews from Bethesda and Walter Reed."

The day concluded with handshakes and commendations shared by both organizations.

The National Naval Medical Center Bethesda will now be officially known as the WRNMMC.