The Army officially closed down the 102-year-old Walter Reed hospital in Washington Wednesday, but the facility will continue to care for some patients until next month. Then, the service will conduct a massive move of inpatients to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the grounds of what used to be the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Vice Adm. John Mateczun, commander of the Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, told a meeting of the Defense Health Board last month that up to 150 inpatients will be moved four miles from the old hospital to the new one in a tightly choreographed, eight hour exercise that calls for the transfer of patients in three minute increments on Sunday, Aug. 28.
Mateczun said he expected the inpatient move to take about eight hours over three different routes, with the transfer coordinated with Washington and Montgomery County, Md., police.
The "new" Walter Reed includes construction of a number of buildings on the 243-acre Bethesda campus, including the largest outpatient clinic (515,000 square feet) in the Military Health System and a 295,000-square foot building for the hospital's Transition Unit, with 306 patient rooms.
The Navy has spent $940 million on new construction at the Bethesda campus and Mateczun said another $829 million in construction funds is needed through 2018 for 560,00 square feet of new buildings, base infrastructure upgrades and a new parking garage.
The Army said the old Walter Reed campus will be used by the State Department, other federal agencies and the city of Washington.
What, I wonder, will happen to the Generals Row of homes where top Army medical commanders currently live?