When a gunman took aim at the faithful at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church recently, half of the critically injured victims received life-saving care at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
It is what they do a dozen times a day at the nation's busiest military medical center, treating trauma victims with the best care available.
BAMC leadership says that 85 percent of the people treated at the northeast San Antonio facility are civilians, so city leaders say protecting this resource is essential.
In addition to saving lives, military medical personnel receive invaluable training so that they will be prepared to save lives on the battlefield when they are desperately needed.
Thursday some of the biggest brass in the local healthcare community showed up at a San Antonio City Council meeting and sounded an alarm that the Brooke Army Medical Center is facing a serious threat.
"We must protect BAMC as our precious crown jewel,” Dr. Brian Easterly said.
"This is an economic issue, this is a national security issue, and this is a public health issue that begs a call for action. And that call must not go unanswered," Dr. Bryan Alsip added.
In a prepared video segment, Lt. General Jeff Buchanan urged city leaders to act now.
"Please keep other trauma centers away from San Antonio," Lt. Gen. Buchanan said.
The threat, they say, is that Methodist Healthcare System is considering adding more trauma care.
That would mean fewer patients at BAMC and decreased opportunities for the nation's premiere military medical training center.
"Anybody who threatens that volume is a threat to national defense," Brigadier General Jeff Johnson said.
The city council resolution in support of BAMC passed unanimously and Commissioner Kevin Wolff told the group that he will ask Bexar County for a similar vote of support as soon as he can get the topic on the agenda.
Methodist Healthcare issued a statement saying that they’ve met with BAMC officials as the first step in researching community needs. They say that their decisions will be based on what is best for patient care.
Palmira Arellano, the vice president of marketing and public relations for Methodist Healthcare, provided the following official statement:
"The unfortunate increase in natural disasters and tragic events that have occurred recently in the United States have caused many communities across the country to research the proper structure of trauma levels within their regions.
As the largest health system in the region that has a proven record of quality care, it is our obligation to perform a community health needs assessment and help provide resources to meet those needs. This includes the assessment and research of appropriate trauma levels in the San Antonio region.
Our core competency of building partnerships in community led us to the first step in our research, which was to meet with BAMC officials to discuss the impact of adding a higher level of trauma care to our region and, to discuss any collaboration that may be considered in doing such.
Our future planning is based on what is best for patient care and what is best for the health and wellness of the communities we serve. It is our culture to live our mission of serving humanity to honor God by providing exceptional and cost-effective health care, accessible to all. This includes every resident in our region, regardless of ability to pay."
Arellano also provided this background material:
About Methodist Healthcare
Methodist Healthcare System – San Antonio is the largest provider of health care in South and Central Texas with 27 facilities, including nine hospitals serving over 90,000 inpatients and 350,000 outpatients annually. The Methodist Healthcare team is comprised of 10,000, making Methodist Healthcare the second largest private employer in San Antonio. The Texas Quality Foundation selected Methodist Healthcare to receive the 2014 Texas Award for Performance Excellence. Methodist Healthcare is the first and only health care system in South Texas to receive this award, which requires an organization to demonstrate its commitment to the highest quality standards. With more than 2,500 credentialed physicians, Methodist Healthcare provides the largest array of medical services in the region, including neurosurgery, cardiovascular services, oncology and women's services. Recent Leapfrog scores show Methodist Hospitals once again on the honor roll with Methodist Hospital, Methodist Children's Hospital, Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, Northeast Methodist Hospital, and Methodist Hospital South received the "A" grade. No other San Antonio healthcare system had hospitals earning the "A" grade. Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital and Methodist Stone Oak Hospital received a "B" grade. Metropolitan Methodist Hospital is the only San Antonio area hospital to win the Top General Hospital Award by Leapfrog and one of only three Texas hospitals recognized this year. The health system is co-owned by both HCA and the Methodist Healthcare Ministries. HCA is one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, comprised of locally managed facilities that include 171 locally managed hospitals and 119 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and The United Kingdom. Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. is a private, faith-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating access to health care for the uninsured through direct services, community partnerships and strategic grant making in 74 counties across South Texas. Visit www.SAHealth.com to learn more.
In addition to providing care, BAMC has been in a long-term partnership with the University Health System. They share personnel and work closely to make sure a 22-county region of Texas is covered.
The University Health System recently posted this video on their Facebook page, which offers additional background on this life-saving partnership.