Late Breaking News
The prayer that has been mine for 20 or more years - Cont.
Like any large institution, WRAMC had its challenges. Personnel requirements to support both the clinical and academic missions were often beyond available resources, necessitating a “jack-of-all-trades” approach by federal practitioners and long work hours to be successful. The hospital infrastructure was old and deteriorating and the competition for space to fulfill the requirements of modern medicine intense. These “physical” realities of the hospital, though challenging, never tarnished the spirit embodied in everyone who had the honor to work there. The spirit of devoted care to soldiers and families, education of the next military medical generation and love of scientific inquiry: That was the true Walter Reed. It was that spirit which defined the excellence of the institution in good times and bad, and I imagine would have pleased Major Walter Reed if he could be alive to see his namesake institution today.
Fortunately, the WRAMC spirit is contained within its people, not the institutional buildings. With the opening of the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Md., on the campus of the old Bethesda Naval Hospital, that spirit can and I believe will find a new home to grow on a rejuvenated campus with modern infrastructure. Certainly the legend that was Bethesda Naval Hospital will only enhance the strength of the new WRNMMC. There are no illusions among the federal providers and support personnel of both institutions concerning the challenges involved with this historic move and merger while our country is engaged in two wars. Nobody is quite sure where we all are going to park! Nevertheless, the legacy that is WRAMC has fulfilled the desire of countless federal providers and support staff in the last 100 years to, “in some way or sometime to do something to alleviate human suffering …” As the new WRNMMC rises, I am confident that Major Walter Reed’s legacy will live on as the next chapter of this storied institution continues into its next century.
(1) Pierce JR, Writer J. Affirmation. Yellow Jack.Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sonc, Inc.; 2005. 173-188.