It's been in the works for six years, and this summer the transition will finally take place. Walter Reed Army Medical Center will close and its patients will move to Bethesda's Navy Hospital starting in July. Navy Med has been rehearsing the transporting and unloading of patients to be better prepared for the actual move.
The largest group, about 1,500 employees and 600 outpatients, will stagger their relocation throughout the summer. Any new outpatient appointments will be handled at Navy Med, not Walter Reed, and staff will move to Bethesda with the patients they support. Walter Reed's 150 inpatients will be moved by ambulance sometime in August.
As these new patients arrive, Navy Med's numbers will roughly double from 150 inpatients and 600,000 outpatient visits to 300 inpatients and about 1 million outpatient appointments. This increase in numbers is not without some angst for Bethesda residents, as the community is a next-door-neighbor to Navy Med.
The East Bethesda Citizens Association has acknowledged that traffic will be difficult in the first few months of transition, and they've already seen an increased number of non-resident cars parked on neighborhood streets. While that might not be due to Navy Med, it's still possible that those who don't want to sit in traffic at the hospital gates might park in Bethesda and walk to the hospital. It's hoped that residential parking signs will eliminate this problem.
It will take a bit of time, but everyone is hopeful for a happy co-existence once the transition is complete.
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