By by Paula M. Fitzgerald/ParaglideJanuary 15, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The staff of the Emergency Department at Womack Army Medical Center held a grand-opening ceremony Dec. 18, which marked the addition of seven acute care beds.
Col. Frank Christopher, chief of the emergency department, said the new beds allow the hospital to better care for the Soldiers and Families in the community.
"The department had to expand to meet the demands caused by increased Fort Bragg populations because of (base realignment and closure) and other Grow-the-Army initiatives," said Christopher, who has been in his current billet since May.
With the addition of the seven beds, the department went from 15 to 22 beds. The beds are located in spaces previously housing the Tricare Service Center, which has found a new home in the hospital.
Christopher said the new beds help to realign the hospital to meet the industry standard of one bed per every 2,000 patients.
"Womack's emergency department is the busiest in the federal government. That's including the entire Defense Department, the Veteran's Affairs and the U.S. Public Health Service," Christopher explained.
In fact, the department's annual volume is about 70,000 patients, which is almost 190 patients per day, and nearly 550 ambulance runs occur each month.
"We see the whole gambit in disease and injury, so we have to be prepared for pretty much everything," Christopher said. "Heart attacks, car accidents, jump-related injuries, we are prepared for it all."
The new beds are in individual rooms with doors that can be closed for added privacy. The rooms also support enhanced infection control and patient safety. There is also enough space in each room to allow Family members to remain bedside as patients are treated.
In addition to the new beds, Christopher has been authorized to increase his staff levels and is looking to recruit seven registered nurses, three licensed practical nurses, three medical support assistants and four physicians. Christopher said recruiting efforts are going very well.
"The Womack mission is to be the Army's medical center of excellence," said Col. Nadja West, WAMC commander.
"The expansion of our emergency department allows us to provide outstanding care to those who are entrusted to us."