FORT BELVOIR, Va. (April 13, 2011) -- The new Army hospital under construction at Fort Belvoir, Va., is a "dream come true" and will be a world-class facility that meets all expectations and demands, said the DeWitt Army Community Hospital commander April 7.

Col. Susan Annicelli spoke about the progress and expectations of transitioning from DeWitt to the new hospital, scheduled to open in August, during a presentation to the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce.

Much of her presentation focused on the new hospital's use of evidence-based design principles and ways the medical treatment facility will participate in furthering evidence-based design research. For example, the facility incorporates an abundance of natural light, which isn't simply a nice-to-do for aesthetic design. A number of studies show that natural light improves and shortens patient recoveries while increasing employee morale and productivity, Annicelli said.

The 1.3 million square feet of space - three times that of DeWitt - houses 120 beds where staff members will specialize in acute care, primary care and specialty care. Laboratory and pharmacy support are major components moving from DeWItt, as the commander boasted the pharmacy as being the fourth largest in the Department of Defense.

Most notably, Annicelli said, the new hospital includes full oncology, cardiology - including two cardiac catheterization suites - and expanded behavioral health services supporting servicemembers and their families.

About 245,000 beneficiaries in the D.C. Metropolitan area are eligible for care at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, and more than 80,000 of those will be enrolled.

"The Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is where evidence-based design meets patient- and family-centered care in a culture of excellence," Annicelli said. "Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is an environment that will instill confidence and exemplify our commitment to deliver world-class medical care to America's heroes."

Highlighting that, each room is for a single patient that includes separate zones for family members and health care staff, she said family support is a critical factor in helping patients heal. Therefore, each room is designed to accommodate family members and provide for their comfort and rest.

One area of interest expressed by members of the chamber as well as the community was how the region will continue supporting wounded servicemembers. According to Annicelli, Fort Belvoir will see an increase in its wounded, ill and injured warrior population, and community leaders should take pride that Fort Belvoir has been entrusted with returning the nation's heroes to good health.

Fort Belvoir currently has about 150 wounded warriors, but that number will grow to about 400 after Base Realignment and Closure measures are completed. The new Warrior Transition Complex - a 194,000-square-foot facility - is nearing completion and will house 288 warriors.

"We are really here for the community," Annicelli said about both military and civilian communities surrounding Fort Belvoir. "We are thankful and grateful for the support we receive, and for that, we try to give back as much as possible."

The Fort Belvoir Community Hospital will continue DeWitt's current partnership with the Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance, a 501 C (6) corporation established in 2002 to better prepare the 14 member hospitals of Northern Virginia to respond to incidents of significance in a coordinated and collective effort.