Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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 | Readiness Capabilities

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...

Wounded Warriors and Caregivers Online Resources

Article
11/29/2021
Airmen race for a loose ball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior basketball game

The Defense Department programs listed here are staffed with nearly 800 recovery care coordinators and case managers who are standing by to respond to individual queries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Article
11/29/2021
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David speaks about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness

Army Recovery Care Coordinator Guides Veterans, Caregivers in Recovery

Article
11/12/2021

A warrior care coordinator shares how she supports recovering service members, their families and caregivers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | IHD COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center for Health Care Personnel | Immunization Healthcare

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Giving Back Helps Veteran Caregiver Connect with Military Caregivers

Article
11/10/2021
Veteran caregiver, Diane Hupko with U.S. Army veteran she cares for smile at camera

Giving back helps veteran caregiver connect with other military caregivers to build a community of support.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Are You Prepared for Flu Season? Let TRICARE Help.

Article
11/1/2021
A hospital corpsman administers an influenza vaccination to an airman as part of a seasonal shot exercise onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella.

Flu season is here once again. Are you prepared? With the COVID-19 Delta variant​ continuing to spread and our health care system overburdened, it’s important for all of us to help combat the spread of flu. And the best way to do so is to get a flu shot.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Changes to TRICARE

New MHS Podcast Explores Women’s Health in the Military

Article
10/27/2021

The new podcast series, Wise Health for Women Warriors, aims to help servicewomen overcome the specific health care obstacles they encounter.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Ready Reliable Care Framework is Improving MHS Patient Care

Article
8/18/2021
Ready Reliable Care is the Military Health System's framework for ensuring high-quality health care across the force.

The Military Health System's Ready Reliable Care framework helps ensure high-quality health care for all service members, veterans and their families.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Technology | Readiness Capabilities | Ready Reliable Care | MHS GENESIS

Army’s 773rd administers mobile COVID-19 testing during DEF21

Article
6/4/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks and lab coats, pose for a picture in an Albanian lab.

Approximately 800 Army Reserve soldiers from the U.S. and Europe participated in DEFENDER-Europe 21.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Readiness Capabilities

'Desert Medics' open clinics at Joint Training Center-Jordan

Article
6/2/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask looking at someone's teeth

'Desert Medics' begin Operation Eagle's Landing, open clinics at Joint Training Center-Jordan.

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities

Medical Group promotes preventative care with physical therapy

Article
6/1/2021
Military personnel standing beside each other posing for a picture

MHS physical therapy services may include therapeutic exercise, manual manipulation, and dry needling.

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities

ADVISOR brings support to medical personnel in austere environments

Article
5/27/2021
Photo of Michael Kile, LPN, the operational readiness program manger

The Military Health System offers the Advanced Virtual Support for Operational Forces program, or ADVISOR, for remote military medical professionals.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Combat Support | Health Readiness

Signs and symptoms of a stroke, and what to do about them

Article
5/18/2021
Infographic about the sign of a stroke

For Stroke Awareness Month, we highlight some of the most important facts about strokes in men and women.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

DHA, HA leaders discuss MHS Transformation at AHA panel

Article
5/6/2021
Military personnel talking at a podium

Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place and Dr. Terry Adirim discussed MHS Transformation, MHS GENESIS, and highlighted the DHA’s response to COVID-19 in a virtual roundtable hosted April 12 by the American Hospital Association.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Military Health System Transformation | Genesis of MHS GENESIS | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Readiness Capabilities

U.S. Army Medical Team Administers COVID-19 Vaccines in Guam

Article
4/29/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask administering the COVID-19 vaccine

Army medical professionals assist in administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to local Guamanians.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Readiness Capabilities
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 6

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.