Back to Top Skip to main content

Army hospital powers through record-breaking winter storms

A military medical center covered in snow Brooke Army Medical Center endures a deluge of snowfall at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Feb. 18, 2021. Services at BAMC were limited for several days during two record-setting winter storms. (Courtesy of Brooke Army Medical Center)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

With record-cold temperatures and potential power outages looming in South Central Texas last week, Brooke Army Medical Center immediately launched into action to ensure continuity of patient care despite the impending storms.

With safety at the forefront and to conserve resources, BAMC first delayed all non-urgent medical appointments and procedures to ensure emergency services and trauma support to the city remained unaffected. This measure enabled patients and non-emergency-essential staff to stay off icy roads and safely at home.

“As a Level I Trauma Center, it is vital that we maintain our critical care mission and support to our community partners, while ensuring the safety and well-being of our service members, patients and staff,” said BAMC Commanding Army General Brig. Gen. Shan K. Bagby.

To ensure continuity of care, BAMC’s healthcare professionals stayed for hours past their shifts, in some cases overnight, until icy roads thawed and personnel relieving them could safely travel to the hospital.

Many staff members went above and beyond, pitching in to replenish supplies and aid with bed coordination for staff needing to stay overnight. In one case, nursing supervisor Michelle Garrish spent three nights in the hospital to help cover shifts, while Army Staff Sgt. Russell Johnson offered to pick up staff who were unable to drive in. Air Force 1st Lt. Cruz Williamson stayed three hours past her shift, with another three hours spent driving to her house, which was without electricity. Still, she assured her supervisor she would just take a quick nap in case she needed to come back to work.

These are just a few examples of the many contributions over the past week, noted Army Lt. Col. Jody Brown, deputy commander for inpatient services. I am enthusiastically grateful to work with this outstanding team of professionals,” she said. “The communication and unity of effort across the hospital was superb and a testament to the team’s training and professionalism.”

With the ongoing below-freezing temperatures and intermittent snow and ice, BAMC also temporarily closed outlying clinic services for the week to include COVID screening and testing and vaccine administration.

“We made some difficult decisions with safety at the forefront,” Bagby said.

Additionally, at the request of CPS Energy and as part of Joint Base San Antonio’s city support, BAMC transitioned to generator power for close to 48 hours earlier this week to aid the community’s power conservation efforts. The city’s power reached critical levels this week due to the increased demand on the system, spurring many planned rolling power outages across the region to conserve power.

“BAMC was well-prepared to provide this community support,” said Army Col. Michael Wirt, BAMC deputy commanding officer. “About a year ago, BAMC completed an extensive upgrade to the central energy plant, bringing the latest power technology to the facility. Additionally, BAMC personnel train to respond to power outages, both planned and unplanned, throughout the year to ensure their readiness for a real-world event.”

The power transition, which was transparent to patients, did not impact BAMC’s inpatient care mission or support of the city’s trauma mission. Alongside University Hospital, BAMC is one of two Level I Trauma Centers in the region, providing support across a 26,000-square-mile, 22-county expanse. 

“We have an active and long-standing partnership with the community, which enables us to act as a cohesive, efficient system in times of crisis,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Osborn, deputy commander for surgical services. “I am deeply impressed with the BAMC team’s contributions as well as the incredible efforts of our emergency services personnel across the city.”

BAMC’s ongoing training and recent response to the pandemic were key factors in the hospital’s rapid and successful response to the weather this week, Bagby noted.

“Over the past year, we have been leveraging virtual health, telework and operational flexibility with great success,” he said. “Our training and experience were huge contributors in our ability to respond quickly, calmly and with expertise over the past week. I am incredibly proud of our staff and their determination to put our patients first in all that we do.”

Staff are not the only ones well-versed in continually evolving conditions, Bagby added. “Our patients have also exhibited resilience, support and understanding, not just over the past week, but throughout the entire year.”

With warmer weather anticipated this weekend, BAMC will resume services and continue its COVID response of screening and testing and vaccinating eligible phase 1b personnel next week.

As for the staff, the weather event will mark another challenge surmounted in an already difficult year.

“I am so proud and grateful for the way our people rise to this and every occasion,” said Air Force Col. Heather Yun, deputy commander for medical services. “Every one of our teammates has been personally affected by the storm, but nevertheless show so much compassion, empathy, diligence and professionalism. We will all have stories to tell after this week, and we will be telling stories of grit, care and an incredible community that rose to yet another remarkable occasion.”

You also may be interested in...

METC trains dietician techs to build, support a Medically Ready Force

Article
3/18/2021
Military health personnel preparing food trays while wearing a face mask

Nutrition plays an important role in military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 03 - March 2021

Report
3/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Influenza surveillance trends and influenza vaccine effectiveness among Department of Defense beneficiaries during the 2019–2020 influenza season; Influenza outbreak during Exercise Talisman Sabre, Queensland, Australia, July 2019; Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2020; A retrospective cohort study of blood lead levels among special operations forces soldiers exposed to lead at a firing range in Germany.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Training for a healthy heart can improve overall health

Article
2/22/2021
Military personnel wearing a mask exercising in the gym

Service members must be heart healthy to perform optimally throughout their military careers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Order of Military Medical Merit presented to USU medical student

Article
2/19/2021
Military personnel receiving the Order of Military Merit

Army 2nd becomes the first USU medical student to receive the Order of the Military Medical Merit.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement

VCE examines low vision with detection and care

Article
2/18/2021
military health personnel wearing a mask and performing an eye exam

Dr. David Eliason, of the Vision Center of Excellence, says low vision awareness is about prevention, detection, and continuing treatment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Tools | Medical Research and Development | Vision Loss

Improving health outcomes, readiness is aim of new grant funding

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask giving a shot to a patient

DHA offers funding grants for high-value research that supports better care, better health, and increased readiness, with lower costs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

DOD initiatives address the sexual health of our military

Article
2/17/2021
Image of a bacterium

STIs are important to identify and treat because they can impact service members’ health and readiness, as well as their ability to perform their duties.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health

WRNMMC’s participation in APOLLO program furthers cancer research

Article
2/4/2021
Two groups of vials on a table

The MCC serves as the preeminent cancer research and treatment facility within the Department of Defense.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 02 - February 2021

Report
2/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Historical perspective: The evolution of post-exposure prophylaxis for vivax malaria since the Korean War; Surveillance for vector-borne diseases among active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Weed Army Community Hospital staffers show off their skills

Article
1/29/2021
Medical personnel, wearing a mask, practicing skills on a dummy

Hospital staff continued to take COVID-19 precautions during the event to ensure a safe learning environment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

RHC-Europe Soldiers compete for Army Best Medic title

Article
1/21/2021
Soldiers in the snow, pulling a sled of materials

Army Sgt. Metcalf and Spc. Galdamez prepare to compete in the 2021 Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition later in the month at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

NH Guantanamo Bay Lt. named as Subspecialty Officer of the Year

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Lt. Ara Gutierrez, Naval Readiness and Training Command Guantanamo Bay, was selected Navy Medicine’s Medical Technology Subspecialty Junior Officer of the Year for 2020.

Gutierrez said she was genuinely surprised and honored to represent medicine’s "hidden profession.”

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

MHS refractive surgery experts discuss warfighter readiness

Article
1/13/2021
Image of Mr. McCaffery looking at a monitor with an eye on it

Refractive surgery is any surgery that eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Vision Loss

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 01 - January 2021

Report
1/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Attrition rates and incidence of mental health disorders in an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cohort, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD medication treatment in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Exertional rhabdomyolysis and sickle cell trait status in the U.S. Air Force, January 2009–December 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 37

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.