Air Force Committed to Rebuilding Keesler Medical Center to Pre-Katrina Levels
By Steve Pivnick
Officials of the 81st Medical Group remain committed to rebuilding Keesler Medical Center to its pre-Katrina state by 2007.
Actions completed to date include opening primary care clinics (Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Women’s Health and Flight Medicine) on the first floor of the hospital at the end of November and early December. This was closely followed by support services: laboratory, radiology and a limited pharmacy in mid-December. In addition, the first aid station in the northwest corner of the basement provided daily service 7 a.m.-7 p.m. starting Dec. 1. Life Skills returned to the medical center Jan. 23.
Other services now offered in the medical center are limited; Cardiology, Coumadin Clinic, Genetics, Allergy Clinic with allergy testing and a civilian medication refill clinic in the 1D wing.
Cardiac catheterization and stenting by Air Force cardiologists are performed at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula.
Plans call for inpatient operations to be functioning sometime in October, to include emergency medicine, medical and surgical inpatient beds, intensive care beds, operating rooms and ambulatory surgery. The long-term outlook has officer and enlisted training returning January-July 2007. One dental residency returns during the summer of 2006, the other two in 2007-2008.
In March 2006 a new Blood Donor Center opens in the Arnold Hall Annex, near the tennis courts and auto hobby shop. The basement-level outpatient services entrance is expected to re-open in late April after installation of a new escalator and elevator for easy patient access to the first floor. The main hospital pharmacy for new military prescriptions is expected to reopen concurrent with the clinic entrance opening. By May a temporary outpatient pharmacy for refills and civilian prescriptions should be located by the AAFES shopette on Meadows Drive.
Several pieces of high-value equipment were lost to Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. These are being replaced as patients and staff return. The MRI and mammogram equipment is expected during July 2006. The PRK laser and the radiation oncology equipment should follow in 2007.