A resolution passed by the City Council on Thursday acknowledges the importance of maintaining Brooke Army Medical Center and its military missions in San Antonio.
The resolution was introduced by Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala of the City Office of Military Affairs and Jeff Coyle, director of Government and Public Affairs, in light of hospital competition and base consolidation fears.
BAMC is the only Level I trauma center in the Department of Defense system. It is also a training hub for military doctors preparing for combat theater.
According to the City Office of Military Affairs, the civilian medical organization Methodist Health System is planning to open up to three trauma centers in San Antonio.
Brig. Gen. Jeff Johnson said that would mean fewer trauma patients for BAMC, which would be a blow to its medical training mission.
“One would think that more is better,” Johnson said. “But there are actually studies that have demonstrated that, in the business of trauma, more is not better. You need a certain number of repetitions to maintain your competency. If you lose that volume, your quality goes down.
“That's the threat that we're really trying to address here today.”
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of Army North at Fort Sam Houston, agreed.
“Adding additional trauma centers to San Antonio presents a distinct threat to (Department of Defense) capability and medical readiness," he said.
Ayala said he hopes the City Council resolution will help demonstrate public support for BAMC should another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) occur. BRAC is a measure to increase the efficiency of the Department of Defense. BRAC commissions take into consideration the size and use of military bases.
“All the BRAC rounds are different, but community support is something that is always taken seriously,” Ayala said. “The only communities that lose their military installations are the ones that don’t have the political will to keep them.”
San Antonio has two Level I trauma centers: University Health System and BAMC. They jointly provide care for all trauma patients in a 22 county area. Around 85 percent of BAMC's patients are civilians.
Carson Frame can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @carson_frame