The San Antonio Military Health System became the San Antonio Market today in a ceremony at Brooke Army Medical Center — the seventh such medical market in U.S. military medicine.
The San Antonio Market — such as other Military Health System markets— is a group of hospitals and clinics in a geographic area where Tricare partners, Veterans Affairs hospitals, other federal health care organizations, private-sector teaching hospitals, medical universities and other health care groups partner to share patients, staff, budgets and other functions to improve military readiness and to also help deliver and coordinate health services, according to a news release from BAMC.
The market comprises the 59th Medical Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, led by Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeannine M. Ryder and Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, led by Army Col. (Dr.) Michael Wirt, and their subordinate units in the greater San Antonio community.
The San Antonio Market operates with a $1.02 billion budget and 11,000 staff members who take care of more than 253,000 Tricare beneficiaries who rely on the Defense Department for their health care.
"San Antonio has a special place for military medical professionals," said Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director, Defense Health Agency, during a media roundtable prior to the ceremony that formalized the San Antonio market, today.
"We conduct a significant amount of training here for officers and enlisted personnel. It's home of the Center for the Intrepid — providing world-class care for amputees and burn patients," he said. "We have an innovative partnership with the city that allows us to be part of the emergency care network — allowing us to treat all members of the community when we are the closest hospital." And all of those programs will be sustained and strengthened, he added.
"Our goals in creating this market are to better serve our patients and more effectively use our resources throughout the San Antonio military community," Place said.
He said that means patients will have a standardized model for how they access care, which has one process for making appointments, getting referrals, using military pharmacies and getting imaging, for example. The market already has set up a centralized appointment line and a hotline for COVID-19 to provide patients with information on testing, care and vaccines.
The San Antonio Market will operate as one system, regardless of where the facilities are. "This is good for patients and providers," Place said. "Care is easier to access and understand for patients, and it offers our military staff more opportunities to see patients with complex medical conditions."
Place said the San Antonio Market is an important moment for military medicine, especially in the community. "The medical leaders at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center and our other clinics have been working together for many years, and their work made today possible," he noted. "Now we're taking it a step further. Today's ceremony cements that medical team into a single organization, serving military families throughout the area."
Since January 2020, the DHA has set up six other markets that comprise military treatment facilities in the National Capital area — Washington, D.C., southern Maryland and northern Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; coastal Mississippi — Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula; Central North Carolina in Fayetteville; Tidewater in coastal Virginia; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. San Antonio is the seventh, and San Diego is expected to be the eighth, military medical officials said.