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Walter Reed Army Hospital

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While my father was working in the White House for President Dwight Eisenhower, my sister, Leora, had become very ill. She was born in 1944, spina bfida, and had multiple co-morbid disabilities as a result. By the time she was 15 in 1959 she had spent a great deal of time in hospitals. One morning my father failed to report to the White House as a result of my sister having become extremely ill with uremic poisoning due to a malfunctioning of her kidneys and bladder. She was rushed to Bethesda Naval Hospital as my father had been in the Navy. President Eisenhower inquired as to why my father was absent from his regular duties that morning and was told that my sister had become seriously ill and my dad was with her at Bethesda. President Eisenhower, being an Army man, immediately had his secretary connect him personally with both Bethesda and Walter Reed. He then proceeded to order that my sister be transferred from Bethesda to Walter Reed as soon as it was safe. Being an Army man, he apparently had more faith in the medical staff at Walter Reed than he had in those at Bethesda. The transfer was made and the president visited her there when she was feeling better. I remember seeing the glossy photograph of them together where he posed for a picture with her as he sat on her bedside. She was beaming with delight--and so was he.

Times have changed.


Walter Reed Army Hospital to Close After 102 Years

"The historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center, formerly known as the Nation’s military flagship hospital serving more than 150,000 active and retired personnel from all branches of the military, will close its doors this week amidst reports of cost cutting measures and inadequate patient care for the returning Iraq and Afghanistan wounded.

After more than a century, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center facility, and the current patients housed at the center, will be moving to a new location in Bethesda, Md., starting Wednesday.

The storied hospital will be merging with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va.

“For many of the staff members, even though they know this is the future of the military health system, in a way, it’s still like losing your favorite uncle,” Col. Norvell Coots, commander of the facility said at a public meeting.

“So, there is a certain amount of mourning that is going on and it is an emotional time. The new facility at Bethesda will be called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, reflecting its multi-service scope.”

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a vast hospital complex on the outskirts of Washington D.C., which the Army described as the "clinical center of gravity of American military medicine."

Named in Major Walter Reed's honor, the medical center admitted its first patients on May 1, 1909."

LINK: Walter Reed to Close

Edited by Greg Burnham
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