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New chapter begins for 79th Medical Wing

May. 22, 2013 - 08:50PM   |  
The 79th Medical Wing broke ground May 22 to begin the construction of the new Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic Campus at Joint Base Andrews, Md. It will include the new Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic and Surgery Center and a new dental clinic.
The 79th Medical Wing broke ground May 22 to begin the construction of the new Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic Campus at Joint Base Andrews, Md. It will include the new Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic and Surgery Center and a new dental clinic. (Air Force)
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The surgeon general of the Air Force is no stranger to the Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic and Surgery Center at Joint Base Andrews, Md. It’s the first stop for ill and injured troops returning from Europe and Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis’ father, a senior noncommissioned officer who retired from Andrews, was a patient in the original hospital. Travis’ son and grandchild were born there. In 2006, Travis stood up the 79th Medical Wing, one of three in the Air Force.

Travis returned to Andrews today to help mark a new chapter: the construction of a new 345,000-square-foot medical clinic and surgery center.

Scheduled to open in 2017, it will replace the old L-shaped hospital built in 1958 as a 313-bed inpatient facility. The current building will be torn down.

Travis reflected on his ties to Andrews during a ceremonial groundbreaking. “It’s very special to come back today,” he said.

The new facility will house an ambulatory care and surgery center, an emergent care center, physical and occupational therapy, family health facilities, and space for specialty clinics and other support services. The operating rooms will be identical to those at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

“Surgeons will feel fully comfortable when they walk in here,” said Maj. Gen. Gerard Caron, commander of the 79th Medical Wing.

Construction will also include a separate 26,600-square-foot dental clinic and a four-story parking garage.

The $266 million project is part of the 2005 Base Realignment Act and Closure Law, which ended overnight inpatient services at the Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic, transforming it into an ambulatory services clinic in September 2011.

The new buildings will be energy-efficient, cutting down on maintenance costs. It will also free up space in other facilities in the National Capital Region health care network, including Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir, which are close to their enrollment capacity, Caron said.

“Everybody is aware of the rising cost of health care and the impact on the budget,” Caron said. “We want to keep procedures and surgeries within our system as much as we can and hopefully provide cost savings.”

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