City to Discourage New Hospital Trauma Centers to Protect BAMC

The City is supporting Brooke Army Medical Center in the face of expected future base closings in an unusual way, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The City will go on record opposing the opening of any more Level One designated Trauma Centers in San Antonio.

Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan, commander of Army North at Ft. Sam Houston, says the reason the Department of Defense has established the largest teaching military hospital in the country at Ft. Sam Houston is because it requires a steady stream of trauma patients to train military doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to be ready for battlefield conditions, and the constant stream of shooting victims, car wreck patients and burn sufferers the BAMC trauma unit receives, 6,000 every month, is needed to achieve that goal.

"Anything that, if they stand up a new trauma center here, that will detract from military readiness, because it would detract from the repititions these doctors need to be ready for the battlefield," Gen. Buchanan said.

That repitition is particularly important now, because as the U.S. draws down its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, military physicians have to be ready for the demands of the next war.

"Department of Defense is really trying to understand, how do we best maintain capability in an interwar period, when we don't have as many casualties coming back," BAMC Commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson said.

Military officials expressed 'grave concerns' that any additional trauma centers in San Antonio 'wound greatly reduce BAMC's patient load, placing BAMC's medical readiness objectives at risk, which would ultimately be detrimental to a sustainable regional trauma center.'

In addition, military officials said, if the military is unable to properly train battlefield physicians in San Antonio, it could be forced to move the trauma training mission at BAMC 'to another location within the United States.'

"The loss of BAMC would threaten the region's likelihood of gaining additional military missions during a time when the Department of Defense is contemplating Base Realignment and Closure actions, said Councilman Clayton Perry.

BAMC is also a centerpiece of the city's $49 billion annual economic impact, and losing the military hospital, which was significantly expanded following the 2005 BRAC round, would be 'devastating' to the local economy.

Gen. Johnson said there are, in fact, expansion possibilities at BAMC.

"The Department of Defense wants to expand its ability to train and provide sustainment for its medical professionals here in San Antonio," he said.

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