Vigilance at Brooke amid Walter Reed scandal
SAN ANTONIO - Brooke Army Medical Center, the second-busiest military
treatment facility for those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, benefits from
having an entire Army post around it in a way that Walter Reed Army Medical
Center doesn't, Brooke's commander said Thursday.
"We have an entire military installation to support the soldiers and the
families," said Brig. Gen. James Gilman, who noted that BAMC patients and
families have access to all of the schools, housing and resources available
at Fort Sam Houston.
And when more structures are needed, they can be built on the post. Walter
Reed, in contrast, stands alone and is surrounded by Washington, D.C.
Commanders at BAMC and Fort Sam Houston, where the hospital is located, held
a news conference Thursday in an effort to quell questions about the
facility following a scandal that has erupted since reports last month in
Military Times newspapers and The Washington Post about lapses in
maintenance and case management at Walter Reed.
No similar accusations have surfaced at BAMC, which houses the Army's only
burn center and where more than 3,000 service members wounded in Iraq and
Afghanistan have been treated. But the revelations about conditions at
Walter Reed have prompted renewed inspections, congressional hearings and a
bipartisan panel named by President Bush to look at Army medical facilities
The commanders at BAMC and Fort Sam Houston said they have looked at all
parts of the medical treatment and outpatient services and ensured that even
lesser-visited places are properly maintained. None of the structures
associated with patient care and family housing are more than 15 years old.
The BAMC building opened in 1996.
"If we find something that's not working, we're going to fix it and we're
going to move on," said Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, the commander of Fort Sam
Gilman said case managers see every patient each week to ensure their care
stays on track and that noncommissioned officers put in charge of the
wounded, who are assigned to units like active-duty personnel, are also
BAMC has about 320 wounded service members and reservists, ranging from
acute injuries to long-term rehabilitation cases. Last month, a new $50
million high-tech facility for rehabilitation of amputees and severely
burned patients opened across the parking lot from the medical center.
BAMC has about half the daily patient load Walter Reed has, in part because
the Washington hospital is closer to the regional hospital in Landstuhl,
Germany, where most severely wounded service members make a stop after being
field treated in Iraq.
Gilman said he expects the patient load at BAMC and other military hospitals
to increase as the Army re-evaluates how the wounded are assigned.
Sgt. Nicholas Beintema transferred to BAMC from Walter Reed in November and
is living in the barracks near the hospital with other patients and hospital
staff. In his 16 months at Walter Reed, he had friends who lived in Building
18, the one the Post reported had roaches and mold, but never saw anything
other than an aging structure, he said.
His dorm-style room at BAMC, which was part of the commanders' tour, is
similar to the one he had at Walter Reed, said Beintema, whose right leg was
partially amputated after he was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
"I'm very happy with what I have here," he said.
"A democracy is a sheep and two wolves deciding on what to have for
lunch. Freedom is a well armed sheep contesting the results of the