Thursday, March 15, 2007

Military medicine in the face of mounting casualties

Walter Reed staff still strong:
With all of the scandal and drama going on at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, it seems to me that many people may forget the soldiers who work there. I was stationed at WRAMC for almost four years and, while I never worked in the main hospital, I got to know many soldiers who did. It has to be difficult for them to rise above all the controversy, but I know they are doing so.
The problems at Walter Reed are not new. However, the problems are not with the wonderful doctors, nurses and enlisted soldiers who get up every morning (or night) to care for our wounded warriors. It’s easy for the American public and even other servicemembers to write off military health care as the worst on Earth, and these stories about WRAMC make it even easier. But I feel obligated to point out that a hospital is much more than a building.
It’s more about people helping people. This concept was demonstrated to great effect by Patch Adams. And, while the facilities at Walter Reed may be run down, the medical staff there certainly is not. That is why they call Walter Reed the premier medical treatment facility in the Department of Defense. Keep up the good work, guys.
Sgt. Benjamin T. Shutt
Camp Hovey, South Korea

Of note: Walter Reed is on the BRAC list for closure. I wonder how much was actually the commanding officer's negligence compared to a general lack of funding. Other than projects that are already ongoing at the time, once a base is slated for closure, that usually means no new contracts for maintenance and/or upgrades. As a military nurse that has worked in a variety of conditions while deployed, I know firsthand what it takes to do more with less.....and I am certain that the staff at Walter Reed have been doing an outstanding job considering the odds stacked against them: eroding facilities, mounting casualties from the war, and staffing shortages from deployments.
Since the start of the war, 7,005 patients wounded in combat have required medical air transport back to Germany or the U.S. The total number of patients requiring transport back to the U.S. since 2003 is 32,544. The figures aren't staggering compared to WWII, but are high enough to be impressive and put a heavy strain on a system that is designed for peacetime patient volumes. After three years of war, we find ourselves all a little surprised at how little progress we have made (think: backwards). The staff at Walter Reed is caught in the middle, and I'm sure it breaks their heart to see their facility dragged thru the mud endlessly over an issue that is beyond their control.

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone, for everything you do everyday, your fellow nurses and physicians in the civilian world know how hard you all work. So please remember that what we do is God's work and for that you will always be loved. Jen, RN from Illinois

Todd said...

Wow! Carl I just caught up on reading your blog. This is good stuff. Sorry I haven't been reading it. I wish there was more a Guy in Suffolk could do for all the children. I want to bring them here. IF there is something I can sen to help the kids or you let me know. In Christ's love brother