FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas --- Military leaders, construction officials and wounded warriors joined Monday to break ground on an historic start of the San Antonio Military Medical Center, a $724 million construction and renovation project at Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Medical Center.

The construction, expected to take almost three years, will unify Wilford Hall Medical Center (SAMMC-South) and Brooke Army Medical Center (SAMMC-North).

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker and Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. James Roudebush were guest speakers at the ceremony.

Roudebush stressed the importance of providing the best care to all service members, retirees and their Families. "The medical capabilities that are here in the community, the leadership's view of the importance of the military and military medicine really makes San Antonio the perfect home for this kind of capability," said Roudebush.

SAMMC-South and SAMMC-North will provide tremendous training benefits for the tactical level medical professionals serving in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

SAMMC will continue to train over 600 physician residents per year for the Army and Air Force in 37 clinical areas, all of which, have already been integrated except for general surgery, which is scheduled for integration in summer 2009, and Orthopedics, which is scheduled for integration in summer 2010.

SAMMC-North campus will consist of 425 inpatient beds, 32 operating rooms for inpatient and ambulatory surgery, level one trauma and emergency room, medical, Pediatric, and Surgical Subspecialty Clinics, Primary Care, Labor, Delivery and Recovery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Bone Marrow Unit, and the New Center of Excellence: Cardio-Vascular, Maternal-Child, Battlefield Health and Trauma.

SAMMC-North, including the Fort Sam Houston Primary Care Clinic will add approximately 791,000 square feet of new construction and 314,000 square feet of renovation with cost projected at $673 million.

Included in the new construction at SAMMC-North, is the Consolidated Tower, with the emergency department, inpatient floors, clinics and administrative space adding 738,000 square feet, a multi-level garage with 5,000 parking spaces and a central energy plant.
SAMMC-South campus will be one of the largest ambulatory care centers in the Department of Defense. It will offer primary care, around the clock urgent care for trainees, medical, pediatric and surgical subspecialty clinics, to include allergy, dermatology, sleep disorders, chiropractic, podiatry, ear, nose and throat; audiology and speech; flight medicine, oral surgery and the new center of excellence for eye care.

SAMMC-South will add approximately 186,000 square feet of renovation with cost projected at $51million. A replacement ambulatory surgical clinic project is currently under consideration as an alternative to the renovation project. This military construction project would construct a 645,000 square foot replacement Ambulatory Surgery Center with cost projected at $441million.

"The collaboration and economies of scale we achieve in combing our efforts allow us to leverage our resources and expertise in a way that we were not able to before and we will all gain from these efficiencies by enjoying better facilities, better educational opportunities, and better access to care and treatment," said Schoomaker.

"I have no doubt that we will continue to reinvent ourselves to define and pursue the distinction of being world-class through joint and collaborative ventures with our sister services. Let there be no doubt that Army, Air Force and Navy Medicine - with our VA partners in Federal Medicine - is and will remain second to none. Our groundbreaking today sends this message loud and clear," Schoomaker added.

Once the integration and construction are complete, the Air Force and Army will jointly staff and operate the San Antonio Military Medical Center, with both services staffing the inpatient facility at Fort Sam Houston, the north Campus and the outpatient facility at Lackland AFB, south Campus. SAMMC replaces both WHMC and BAMC as the medical flagship for the second largest beneficiary population in the Department of Defense.

BRAC related transition actions are scheduled to be completed by Sept. 15, 2011.
For more information on the integration of BRAC San Antonio or to get updates, visit

(Maria Gallegos works in the Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs)