FORT BELVOIR, Va., July 14, 2011 -- Today, more than 700 community participants and medical personnel are testing the capabilities of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in preparation to begin treating patients in the new facility next month.

Staff members from DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belovior, Va., incoming staff from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and more than 100 local volunteers are involved in the “Day in the Life” exercise designed to test inpatient and outpatient processes and medical equipment.

“We are testing and stressing the systems in the new hospital to ensure it is ready to receive patients in the first day of operations,” said Col. Kathleen Ford, deputy commander for nursing.

The Day in the Life exercise is designed to provide realistic scenarios for staff members to navigate through, therefore, it’s a critical piece of the transition process in order “for us to ‘hit the ground running’ on our first patient day,” said Cmdr. Scott Johnson, director of transition for DeWitt ACH.

More than 50 scenarios will be executed in the new hospital throughout the day. The exercises consist of patient scenarios that involve staff from every discipline performing every role.

“On the surface, this exercise is about testing the new equipment and providing an opportunity for staff members to become familiar with their new work spaces,” Johnson said. “More importantly, though, this allows us to ensure that our patients, our valued beneficiaries are able to receive world-class health care in a safe and comfortable healing environment.”

In addition to testing equipment and preparing staff, the exercise offers various visitors an opportunity to further develop plans to transition their own personnel and facilities. Visitors from other locations, including non-military health care personnel, will observe the exercise with the intent to refine their own transition plans and processes.

“We had the opportunity to observe day in the life exercises and hospital moves at Rockingham Hospital in West Virginia and UCLA’s (University of California at Los Angeles) medical center,” Ford said. “We understood the plan and concept better after observing a hospital move, and will be giving other hospitals the same opportunity.”

In addition to today’s day in the life exercise, transition planners will hold at least one more day in the life exercise to further test and refine processes. The second day in the life event will incorporate an additional 55 scenarios, Ford said.

“Some of the scenarios will be repeated from today. The ones that we tested, but felt needed to be improved and repeated,” she explained.

Exercise scenarios will be run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, followed by a meeting to discuss successes and improvements. During the exercises, DeWitt ACH will be operating on a Saturday schedule. Operating rooms will be open for emergencies only, and no elective surgeries are scheduled so that staff can support the exercise.