Thousands of William Beaumont Army Medical Center patients forced to go off-post for care

William Beaumont Army Medical Center

It’s been more than a month since a man opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Twenty-six people were killed and one victim still remains in the hospital.

The shooter was an Air Force veteran who received psychiatric help in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, when he was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base.

William Beaumont Army Medical Center said that they have over 68,000 patients enrolled with them, and out of that, about 3,000 patients are referred out every month.

"What that means is, we don't have the capacity or the capability to provide the specialty care that they need,” said Capt. Michael Siegert, chief of clinical operations at WBAMC.

Siegert said the Army Medical Center is equipped to provide the necessary medical treatment for the thousands of patients they see.

When they don’t, however, they make sure their patients get the care elsewhere.

"We do have relationships with providers out in the network,” he said. “Often that network extends well beyond El Paso, to ensure we're able to provide that specialty care to our beneficiaries."

He said WBAMC may lack certain specialties that aren’t necessarily needed on the battlefield.

“Our mission is always readiness -- the readiness of our soldiers to deploy and the readiness of our medical providers to support them in their deployments,” he said. “The specialties that they have available to them and that would be meaningful to them in the military are relatively a small set."

That’s why they recruit from outside of the military, though they may pose their own challenges.

“We do hire a large component of civilian physicians to help provide some stability to the type of care that we're able to provide,” Siegert said. "It is a challenge to attract civilian positions, different specialties and different types of providers.

He said the mission always remains the same.

“We do see it as our obligation to make sure that we have relationships with other facilities within the El Paso market to make sure we're able to provide care to them,” he said.

He said, depending on the level of Tricare patients have, soldiers and their families can have the option to be seen at William Beaumont or go to a physician off-post.

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