Thursday, July 10, 2008

Commander’s Column

Last week I had the pleasure of being involved in the ribbon cutting ceremony of the BRAC and Integration Journey Room. This beautifully designed room represents a sampling of the past, present and future work that began with the announcement of the Base Realignment and Closure Recommendation of 2005. Designed in a timeline fashion and modeled after military ‘‘situation rooms,” it is a multi-media museum with narratives explaining the various steps toward and progress made on the road to the BRAC-mandated realignment of Walter Reed Army Medical Center with the National Naval Medical Center and the Fort Belvoir MTF. It will serve as a repository of valuable information and a symbolic tour of the voyage that started in September, 2005.

The Situation Room also recognizes a core group of civilians and active duty staff at NNMC, WRAMC, Dewitt Army Community Hospital, Malcolm Grow USAF Medical Center and other MTFs in the area. These individuals were the pioneers embarking on a journey never before attempted and seemingly impossible. Their individual and collective efforts have made the unbelievable, believable and the impossible, possible. Perhaps you were a member of one of those early committees. If so, the history may bring back memories of the bridges you helped build and friendships you formed with colleagues from other services and military treatment facilities.

The timeline begins with the pre-BRAC announcement and goes through the projected completion of the future Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Fall of 2011. Information will be updated as we progress toward our goal of creating the largest, most advanced military healthcare facility in history. The room will serve not only as an informational resource, but as an inspiration to everyone visiting and those that have played an instrumental part in what has transpired to make this endeavor a success.

The 2005, 2006 and 2007 wall represents the beginning of the BRAC internal work across the National Capital Area Region. The background of a map of the NCR depicts the area of those first early meetings, conferences and retreats. We witnessed hardworking groups of dedicated stakeholders confront such difficult issues as: Who will be in charge? Will I lose my job? How will we address differences in rank, awards, and promotions? What about medical protocols, training and credentialing? We’re not the same. How will this ever work? The years 2005, 2006 and 2007 represent the beginnings - the angst and the celebration of the growth that occurred when good people put their hearts and minds into the situation at hand. In 2007 the Joint Task Force - NCR⁄Medical (JTF CapMed) was established to oversee the consolidation and realignment of military healthcare within our region in accordance with the BRAC.

The backdrop of 2008⁄2009 is depicted by Tri-Service medical professionals working together at various NCR military medical centers. Although ‘‘Functional Integration” began earlier, it really flourished in 2008. The ‘‘blended buildings” across the bottom of the mural was used on letterhead and web-sites to represent that, although still in separate locations, the NCA MTFs were working together as a team. 2008 was also the year that major construction contracts were awarded and the Officer-in-Charge of Construction (OICC), a division of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), set up offices at NNMC to oversee the construction of the future WRNMMC.

In addition to the artwork on the walls, there is a scale model of the new facility on display in the Situation Room. The room also contains a computer information terminal kiosk that allows you to view the full text version of many documents related to the BRAC⁄Integration process. Regular meetings will be held in the room and it will be a major focal point to those who visit and tour the medical center. Staff members are welcome to visit, and we will soon establish regular visiting hours for your convenience.

I hope you will take the time to walk through this historical work of art. You will likely gain insight into just what it has taken to come this far with this important, first of its kind tasking and realize the enormity of the effort. More importantly, the context of the room will remind you that BRAC and Integration are interwoven into all we do. Be aware of patients as they attempt to find their way to locations that have been moved, and assist them as needed. Be alert to safety issues as construction occurs and prevent accidents by your situational awareness. Finally, I expect that as you go about your daily business you are always thinking about best practices within the National Capital Region. These best practices should be brought forward to the future Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The part you play in this transition can contribute to a much improved end result, making WRNMMC truly the best in the history of military medicine.

Commander sends,