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NEWS | Sept. 27, 2012

Senior leaders announce improved health system

By Linda Frost 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

The San Antonio Military Health System celebrated a year of historic and unprecedented change in military medicine Sept.14.

During a press conference at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston senior military leaders announced the successful accomplishments of the new military health system as well as increased partnerships with the city of San Antonio.

Under SAMHS, nearly 2,000 Airmen and civilian personnel were integrated with the Army beginning Sept. 15, 2011, at SAMMC. The health system employs 12,000 military and civilian employees with combined budgets of over $1.18 billion annually.

"Our Airmen are honored to serve side-by-side with their Army colleagues here at SAMMC, the Department of Defense's only Level 1 trauma center in the U.S.," said Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, director of SAMHS.

"At JBSA-Lackland, we flawlessly established the DoD's largest ambulatory surgical center and are now constructing a new world-class facility," Hepburn, who is also the commander of the 59th Medical Wing, said.

SAMHS provides oversight for the health care delivery of more than 240,000 DoD beneficiaries in the San Antonio metropolitan region. Health care services are provided by SAMMC, Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, 19 primary care clinics and more than 100 specialty services.

Hepburn and Army Maj. Gen. Ted Wong, SAMHS deputy commander and Southern Regional Medical Command and SAAMC commander, stood in concert before a crowd of community and military leaders, noting the many successes of the past year, including the improved accessibility to patient-centered medical homes and enhanced secure email communication between providers and patients. San Antonio has also been chosen as one of three test sites for the DoD and Veterans Administration integrated Electronic Health Record, which ties into the Affordable Care Act.

"The SAMHS fosters an opportunity for synergy, enabling SAMMC and the 59th Medical Wing, in collaboration with health care partners, to make system-wide improvements that elevate our quality of care and increase the efficiency in delivering health care," Wong said.

"Our patients will remain our top priority and our sole reason and purpose for our existence, as we provide high-quality, safe and accessible care, while maintaining our patients' trust and confidence," Wong said.

SAMHS oversees clinical, educational and business operations for all military treatment facilities in the San Antonio area. The goal is to create a premier health system dedicated to enhancing quality care, advancing biomedical research, enriching graduate medical education and training, and maintaining a first-class global readiness mission.

"In the months ahead we will continue to transform military medicine here in San Antonio. We will further our transition from health care to preventative health, and will optimize all of our facilities in an integrated manner," Hepburn said. "It is our pledge to provide a safe, high-quality and positive experience that is patient-centered and family-supportive."

For more information about SAMHS, visit