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

Army hospital powers through record-breaking winter storms

Image of A military medical center covered in snow. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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...

Feeling Burned Out at Work? Here Are Some Tips to Feel Better

Article
5/24/2022
Feeling burned out? Tips to understand and avoid burnout.

The good news is that burnout can be mitigated. There are numerous steps that individuals and leaders can take to reduce burnout and its impact.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Iraq Bomb Attack Led Soldier to Pursue Medical Career

Article
5/12/2022
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Maxwell (Left) and U.S. Capt. Brian Ahern, medical personnel assigned to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recovery team, check the pulse of a local villager during excavation operations in the Houaphan province, Laos, Feb. 5, 2019.

Treating wounded soldiers for the first time was a life-changing experience for this enlisted medic.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength

DHA Director Outlines Vision for Health Care Readiness at HIMSS

Article
4/11/2022
Army Lt. General (Dr.) Ron Place during his speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference held in Orlando, Florida, March 2022. Place’s speech detailed his thoughts on solutions to military health care readiness. (Photo: Claire Reznicek, MHS Communications)

During his speech at HIMSS, Lt. Gen. Place discusses clear and present dangers to military medical care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Dr. Jay Montgomery Details Importance of the Immunization Healthcare Division

Article
4/8/2022
Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for DHA’s Immunization Healthcare Division. In addition to being a clinician and educator, he also volunteers with Wounded Warriors to design, build and fly radio controlled helicopters. (Courtesy Photo)

Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division’s North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub. In his role, Montgomery helps address vaccine and immunization questions and concerns.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Health Readiness | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

The New Public Health Director Talks about His Goals for Force Readiness

Article
4/5/2022
Rear Admiral Brandon Taylor of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in dress whites at the 2019 National Independence Day Parade where he represented the U.S. Surgeon General as a presiding official with the other services. Taylor was named in February as the new director of the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health directorate. (Photo: Tanisha Blaise, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division senior public relations and media specialist)

Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor was recently appointed to be the new director for the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health directorate. In an interview, he discussed how he is approaching his new role, his goals for Public Health within DHA, and the importance of Public Health to a medically ready force and a ready medical force.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Readiness | Military Health System Transformation

Caring for Recruits' Injuries is Key to Success at Basic Training

Article
2/23/2022
U.S. Marines wait for instruction from their Senior Drill Instructor after concluding a motivational run at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, on March 11, 2021.

Injuries at bootcamp can end a military career before it starts. That’s why trainers and drill instructors take countless precautions to ensure trainees stay fit and healthy.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Readiness Capabilities

The Chief of the Army Dental Corps Talks Dental Health & Readiness

Article
2/22/2022
The Army’s top dentist talks about what service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Here’s what the Army’s top dentist thinks service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | TRICARE Dental Care

Why Today’s ‘Gen Z’ is at Risk for Boot Camp Injuries

Article
2/8/2022
Military personnel during boot camp

Today’s military recruits are more likely than ever to sustain a serious injury at their initial military training. Here’re some tips for how to prepare before shipping out.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Readiness Capabilities

Campaign Plan Targets Medical Readiness, Better Health

Article
1/26/2022
(From left) Army Lt. Col. Shimul Patel, chief, Plastic Surgery Services, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jessica Peck, chief, Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, LRMC, operate on a cancer patient during the first microvascular reconstruction and anastomosis procedure ever performed at LRMC, Dec. 3, 2021.

DHA’s five-year plan focused on improving global health care delivery, military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Ready Reliable Care | Health Readiness

The British 'Limeys' Were Right: A Short History of Scurvy

Article
1/10/2022
Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, sickened sailors who had no access to fresh food supplies, and killed more than 2 million sailors between the 16th and 18th centuries alone.

How citrus fruits quelled the scourge of scurvy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Nutritional Fitness | Military Medical History

How the Military Medical Forces Supported Afghanistan Evacuation

Article
1/6/2022
A U.S. Marine carries a baby as the family processes through the Evacuation Control Center during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 28. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla)

During the military evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021, military medical forces played a vital role in both providing urgent medical care for those fleeing the country and supporting the mental health of Afghanistan war veterans back home.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief | Partners | Force Health Protection | Readiness Capabilities | Talking About Afghanistan

Meet the First Coast Guard Sponsored USU Medical Student

Article
12/9/2021
US Coast Guard Ensign Bobczynski smiles at camera

U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate Ensign Elyse Bobczynski is the first USCG-sponsored student to attend medical school at the Uniformed Services University.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

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
Recovery Care Coordinator

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
<< < 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.