By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2006 – A temporary medical annex being constructed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here will provide better facilities for wounded troops undergoing post-amputation care, a senior official said today. A 30,000-square-foot addition is being built onto Walter Reed's general medical facility building, said Charles Scoville, a physical therapist and future director of the annex, which will be called the U.S. Army Amputee Patient Care Center.
When completed, the annex will improve "the capabilities to return our soldiers to the highest level of function," Scoville, a 54-year-old retired Army colonel, said. Groundbreaking for the facility began about two weeks ago, Scoville said, with completion slated by October 2007. The annex will provide better facilities and equipment as well as much-needed additional room, he said.
Because of current space limitations, Scoville said, amputee patients at Walter Reed have to negotiate sometimes-crowded hospital hallways for exercise. The annex, he said, will eliminate that concern, giving patients a dedicated area for recovery training and exercise. Walter Reed's amputee care facility mostly treats wounded soldiers, as well as some Marines transferred from the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. Walter Reed's daily amputee care caseload averages eight to 10 inpatients and around 75 to 100 outpatients, Scoville said. The facility admits 10 to 15 new patients each month.
Walter Reed is to close in 2011 as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act. Amputee recovery services at Walter Reed will be moved into a new joint medical facility to be built in Bethesda. Other Walter Reed-based medical care will be transferred to a new hospital to be constructed at Fort Belvoir, Va. The amputee treatment annex is considered a transitional facility that will operate "as long as Walter Reed is on this campus," Scoville said.