Occupational Health & Safety

Walter Reed Closes After 102 Years

The transfer of the final 18 patients from Walter Reed Army Medical Center took place Aug. 27, a day earlier than planned, because Hurricane Irene was approaching.

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., closed its doors for the final time Aug. 27 as the remaining 18 patients were moved to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., one day ahead of schedule, thanks to the approach of Hurricane Irene. Walter Reed had provided medical care to military service members for 102 years.

Navy Vice Adm. John Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, called it "a historic day for military medicine" after the last patient was admitted to what is now called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He thanked the commanders of both hospitals and their staffs for completing "the largest and most complex series of moves and relocations that we have ever had within the military health system," according to DoD's news release.

The last Walter Reed patient was admitted at 9:10 a.m. EST, before the weather worsened.

"We have always been an agile organization as a military health care system," said Navy Rear Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, commander of the National Naval Medical Center. "We may have to deploy hundreds of our personnel at the drop of a hat to a humanitarian assistance relief mission or disaster assistance relief mission. So we are pretty adept at having to change plans suddenly and reconfigure our logistics."

Army Col. Norvell Coots, commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said the day went well. "I'm proud of what we have done ... in conjunction with the flagship of Navy medicine [and] with our counterparts here, to create ... the future of the military health system and what hopefully will be a unified medical command."

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