By Ms. Patricia Beal (Army Medicine)May 6, 2019
WOMACK ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Womack Army Medical Center partnered with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, to care for paratroopers injured during a mass-tactical airborne operation in the early hours of Sunday, April 28.
The WAMC team surged after several Soldiers were transported to the hospital via land and air following the night jump.
"People who are not in the medical field often don't realize that something like this involves the whole hospital," said Dianne Bunch, chief nurse of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care Clinic.
The surge required additional doctors, medics, nurses, radiology staff, lab staff, anesthesiologists, and others as the emergency room and operating room jumped into action.
"We sent out a message for back up at 5 a.m., Sunday morning," said Maj. Jeannie Huh, chief of the Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation. "Within a minute, I received confirmation from my surgeons that they were heading in, no questions asked. Seven surgeons came in, ready and able to take Soldiers back to the operating room as needed."
Col. Andrew Saslav, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, visited Womack on Thursday to thank the staff and to see Pfc. Colton Murphy.
Murphy is the only Soldier still at the hospital.
"Some Soldiers were calm," said Saslav about the injured paratroopers. "One was so calm he simply stated his foot wasn't facing in the right direction. Others were not so calm."
During his visit, he stopped by the Emergency Department, Orthopedics, and the 2 North Surgical Ward to present certificates and coins and to thank medical center staff for their effort and care.
"All my troopers who came here were thankful," said Saslav, who was impressed with how fast people were taken to surgery and with Womack's care for details like keeping unit members together in rooms to boost morale. "The whole brigade knows about the wonderful service you provided."
Staff working in the surgical ward established a practice of placing unit members together to provide comfort for patients. They can relate to an injured fellow service member and that helps with coping.
"I attribute our success that day to the fact that we take care of jump injuries frequently," said Huh. "That's what makes being a Fort Bragg and Womack orthopaedic surgeon special. Secondly, we were able to mobilize multiple OR teams and our ancillary staff in a swift manner with support from our hospital leadership."
The top-three services provided by Womack Army Medical Center are orthopaedics, obstetrics, and primary care.
"In the end, we were all just doing our jobs," said Huh. "Our number one purpose is to serve our Soldiers and provide the most timely and quality care to our warfighters so that they can get back to the fight faster. We are incredibly privileged to play the role that we do, and we never take it for granted."