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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2021

BAMC takes on additional trauma patients to ease COVID-19 burden

By Elaine Sanchez Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Brooke Army Medical Center is taking on additional trauma patients to help ease the rapidly increasing burden on the local healthcare system. 

In coordination with the city’s trauma system, BAMC is now receiving all inter-facility transfers of injured patients who require a higher level of care from across the trauma region, which encompasses 22 counties across Southwest Texas.

Similar to last summer and earlier this year, by taking on additional trauma patients, BAMC, a Level I trauma center, is freeing up community hospital beds for critically ill COVID-19 patients, explained Air Force Col. Patrick Osborn, BAMC’s deputy commander for surgical services.

“Unfortunately, traumatic injuries and other emergent medical conditions do not stop during a pandemic so these baseline requirements for patient care remain,” Osborn said. “Our increased role helps ensure the regional trauma system remains intact despite the increasing healthcare system stress caused by the current surge.” 

With the highly contagious Delta variant on the rise, COVID-19 cases have been climbing across the nation, including the San Antonio area. While the community has experienced similar increases in the past, the local healthcare system faces additional stress as mask mandates have eased and vaccination rates have slowed, Osborn noted.

"This is an important step in preserving healthcare resources in what could be a far greater increase in COVID-19 cases than we have seen to date,” Osborn said. “We hope that BAMC’s ability to take on more of the region’s requirements will ease the stress on this vital trauma system.”

This marks the third time BAMC has taken on a higher percentage of trauma patients since the pandemic started. As with each occasion, the redistribution of high-level trauma care is being accomplished seamlessly due to the history of collaboration between the region’s two Level I facilities and the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, which manages the local trauma system, noted Dr. Timothy Nunez, BAMC’s chief for Trauma and Surgical Critical Care.

“We have an active and long-standing partnership with STRAC and our Level I partner, University Hospital, which enables us to act as a cohesive, efficient system in times of crisis,” he said.

Alongside University Hospital, BAMC provides lifesaving care to more than 6,000 emergency patients each year, including 750 burn patients.

The collaboration of this region’s medical community is “truly remarkable,” noted Brig. Gen. Clinton Murray, BAMC commanding general. 

“We are grateful to have longstanding partnerships and honored to serve our community during this incredibly challenging time for our nation,” Murray said.