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Walter Reed Practices Moving Patients Ahead Of Big Move

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Operations at Walter Reed will move to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Former President George W. Bush (center, right) attended the groundbreaking for the new facility in July 2008.
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Operations at Walter Reed will move to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Former President George W. Bush (center, right) attended the groundbreaking for the new facility in July 2008.

Walter Reed is moving as part of the Defense Department's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, and so are its patients.

The Army and Navy used mock patients to conduct a dry-run of move day Sunday, to iron out any kinks and hiccups. Medical Director Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick is overseeing a fleet of ambulances from a command center.

"We're tracking the patients throughout the whole move, from when they leave the ward, when the patient arrives in Bethesda, we're tracking them all the way through," he says.

In August the patients will be moved for real, to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

"We have planned this move down to very, very small details, and [Sunday] gave us the exercise the move and flesh out those details," says Col. Norvell Coots, who commands the current Walter Reed hospital system. "We're a military organization and this is what military organizations do: execute plans like this."

Walter Reed has operated in D.C. for more than 100 years. It will be ceremonially closed July 27.

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