After 102 years of operation, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center officially closed yesterday with a stirring ceremonial retiring of the hospital’s colors. The Medical Center, which provided care to present and former military members and their families, will relocate, splitting their operations between the newly renamed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Fairfax by Sept. 15.
This Friday, Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland, commander of the medical center, will transfer her position to Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr.
According to an article by Meredith Somers for The Washington Times, the hospital’s former location, although it consisted of 72 buildings on 172 acres, did not have the space it needed to expand and accommodate the changing needs of its patients. The move has been planned since 2005, when the Medical Center received orders to close from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
At the new site in Bethesda, construction projects have begun to alleviate traffic congestion outside the hospital as an estimated 2,500 additional workers are expected to be commuting to the area each day along with patients and visitors. According to the Chevy Chase Patch, the intersections at Connecticut Avenue and Jones Bridge Road, Rockville Pike and Cedar Lane, Rockville Pike and Jones Bridge Road and Old Georgetown Road and Cedar Lane are all scheduled to be improved.