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BAMC takes steps to continue high quality surgical care

  • Published
  • By Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs
  • Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Brooke Army Medical Center is taking a number of steps to ensure high quality surgical care for patients.  An initial step taken in mid-April was to temporarily reduce the number of elective surgical procedures.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this delay may cause,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, BAMC commander. “Everything we do is focused on providing the highest quality care to our patients.

“This temporary reduction will not affect trauma patients or any urgent surgical procedures,” Johnson added. “Our commitment to our trauma mission, the city of San Antonio and the 22 surrounding counties remains the same.”

BAMC deliberately became busier over the past year to sustain wartime skills and training opportunities for health professionals. 

Surgical services, in particular, increased in number.  The increase in surgeries strained the throughput of supporting services.  As a result, leaders are actively evaluating multiple courses of actions in regards to staffing, required equipment, space needs as well as time utilization and process evaluation to ensure the facility is ready to meet the surgical demand.

While matching the surgical demand with the supporting service supply, some elective surgeries have been postponed.  In the meantime, BAMC has been closely monitoring surgical infection rates and has seen no increase over the same period of time.  This validates the layered quality checks in place at BAMC, ensured safe equipment use in the operating rooms.

“We wanted to be proactive ensuring we are 100 percent able to meet the additional requirements with the safety and high quality standards our patients expect and deserve,” said Col. Douglas Soderdahl, deputy commander for surgical services. “We took this step very thoughtfully and with our patients first and foremost in mind.”

A backlog in sterilized surgical instrument sets was a key indicator that BAMC needed to temporarily reduce the number of surgical procedures.  

Surgeons need multiple sets on hand to ensure they are equipped for everything from routine surgeries to complex trauma cases that may require a vast number of surgical instruments.  The sterilized instrument backlog was eliminated in the first nine days of the surgical slowdown.  BAMC is now in the process of bringing on more personnel to support the sterilization process.

BAMC identified a need for additional operating room technicians in its sterilization processing and distribution, where surgical instruments are sterilized, to help reduce the backlog in instrument sets and ensure surgeons are equipped for procedures.  Six additional personnel are already in place, another four personnel will be added Monday, and seven technicians will arrive in the coming weeks. The remaining positions will be filled as quickly as possible.

Leaders will continue to evaluate all aspects of the sterilization process in the weeks ahead.  As sterilization capability comes on line the number of surgical cases will increase in all surgical care lines at BAMC.

“We are working diligently to get back to full operating capacity so we can continue to care for our patients and generate readiness,” Johnson said. “Our unwavering commitment is to our patients’ care. That drives everything we do.”

Patients whose surgeries have been delayed and have questions should contact their surgeon, surgical clinic or primary care manager.