About William Beaumont Army Medical Center
William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) transitioned to the Defense Health Agency in September of 2021, establishing the El Paso Market. The new El Paso Market provides healthcare to over 170,000 qualified TRICARE beneficiaries, fostering a tradition of military medicine in the Fort Bliss/El Paso area for over 100 years and counting.
WBAMC, formerly the William Beaumont General Hospital (WBGH), is located on the east side of Fort Bliss, adjacent to the Spur 601 and Loop 375 connection. Its previous location was northwest of Fort Bliss' main cantonment area, between Fred Wilson Road and Hayes Avenue. The hospital made the move to the new facility on July 11, 2021.
The new facility campus contains a Level III Trauma Center. It has 135 beds, 10 operating rooms, and 30 primary/specialty clinics with 269 exam rooms.
WBAMC’s mission is to support Team Bliss and WSMR by improving health and building readiness, and to also make extraordinary experiences ordinary and exceptional outcomes routine.
Unrelenting pursuit of excellence as we care for Team Bliss and WSMR and those we are privileged to serve. Anytime, Anywhere—Always.
1. WBAMC has three strategic priorities, and they are enabling combat support to the Joint Force in competition, crisis, or conflict;
2. Building a modernized, integrated, and resilient health care delivery system.
3. Dedicated and inspired teams of professionals driving Military Health's next evolution.
WBAMC’s mission essential tasks are in line with Medical Command Readiness west directives, and they are provide medical command and control, direct Army health services, deploy assigned medical forces, and train the medical force.
WHO WAS WILLIAM BEAUMONT?
Born in 1785, U.S. Army Major William Beaumont joined the U.S. Army as a surgeon’s mate during the war in England in 1812. At war’s end, he resigned his position and went into private medical practice. He subsequently applied for reinstatement in the Army in 1819. During service as a medical officer of the army, Dr. Beaumont conducted epoch-making investigations of the physiology of digestion. As a result, he became the leading physiologist of the country and the first to make an important and enduring contribution to that science. He was nicknamed the “Father of Gastric Physiology." Dr. William Beaumont died on April 25, 1853.
General Orders No. 40 of the War Department, dated June 26, 1920, officially named the hospital at Fort Bliss as William Beaumont General Hospital (WBGH) after him, in honor of his great legacy. Synonymously, WBAMC to this day contributes in the advancement of military medicine, just as Beaumont did then, by employing evidence-based medical practices that ensure great care to TRICARE beneficiaries.
On April 1, 1973, when a new facility on Piedras street was occupied, WBGH was re-designated as William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
WILLIAM BEAUMONT HISTORY
Military medicine on Fort Bliss first came to the Paso del Norte region in December of 1880, when an Army hospital was built at Hart’s mill, which is present day University of Texas El Paso. The post hospital was built after Congress appropriated funds for the purchase of that land and constructed officers’ quarters and enlisted barracks, in order to bring Army troops back to El Paso to quell civil unrest. This small hospital closed in 1892, when Fort Bliss moved to La Noria Mesa. The building was demolished in 1954.
In 1893, a hospital was built on present day Fort Bliss, supporting the permanent regimental post with missions along the Mexican border. The Fort Bliss Post Hospital, as it was called then, occupied buildings 8 and 9. Building 8 served as the main hospital facility while Building 9 served as an isolation ward. This small post hospital was adequate for providing the health needs of Fort Bliss until the second decade of the twentieth century, when the influx of Soldiers to the installation during the unstable period of the Mexican Revolution necessitated the construction of a new facility.
Fort Bliss’s next hospital location, comprised mainly of Buildings 1, 4, and 5, became operational in 1916. Building 1 contained the main hospital with a morgue located in its basement. Building 4 served as an infirmary, isolation ward, and dental facility. Building 5 was an ambulance garage. The Army designated this hospital as a base hospital that served Fort Bliss Soldiers and troops stationed at Mexican border posts from Presidio, Texas to eastern Arizona.
When the new hospital became overcrowded soon after its completion, the Army initiated construction of temporary wards in wood frame buildings adjacent to the hospital. These temporary wards gave the hospital a capacity of 933 beds. The Adjutant General designated the hospital as Departmental Base Hospital No. 2 for all troops of the Army’s Southern Department on March 16, 1916.
During World War I, the War Department re-designated Fort Bliss’s Departmental Base Hospital No. 2 as United States Base Hospital, Fort Bliss, Texas. The hospital treated a variety of cases, including Soldiers returning sick from their patrols along the Mexican Border as well as casualties arriving from the Western Front in Europe. Cases of tuberculosis and venereal disease were among the most common ailments.
The first major post-World War I construction project at Fort Bliss occurred in 1920-1921 when the Army constructed 48 tile and stucco buildings northwest of the main cantonment of Fort Bliss. These buildings made up William Beaumont General Hospital, as it was called then due to General Orders No. 40 of the War Department. The construction contract called for the 48 buildings to have connecting corridors including plumbing, kitchen equipment, disinfectors, refrigerating chambers, central steam heating, interior and exterior electrical work, water supply, sewage and storm drainage, roads and an automatic alarm system.
WBGH’s original buildings included twenty wards, an administration and receiving building, five officers’ quarters; three sets of nurses quarters, three medical detachment barracks, a laboratory and mortuary, a hospital exchange, two mess halls, a boiler house, two 400,000-gallon water storage tanks, and several storehouses, guardhouses, garages and miscellaneous buildings. The twenty wards provided a bed capacity of 414, were two-storied, connected with open air and glassed corridors. WBGH was considered by medical authorities to be one of the most up to date hospitals in the country, in 1921.
WBGH officially opened on July 1, 1921, and this date is officially considered the initial date of WBAMC’s history. The staff consisted of six officers, two nurses, and thirty enlisted men. Over the next several years, the hospital underwent several expansions to meet the needs of the troops stationed along the Mexican Border as well as longer-term needs of WWI convalescents undergoing treatment and rehabilitation at the hospital.
WBGH celebrated its tenth anniversary in July of 1931 and had become the station hospital for not only Fort Bliss, but also served the entire western portion of the Eighth Corps area of the U.S. Army, providing health care to Soldiers stationed at posts in Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. The patient count that year averaged 350, and the staff had grown to 18 medical officers, two dental officers, three medical administrative corps officers, 42 Army nurses, and 85 civilian employees.
In 1940, a new addition to WBGH established medical technicians school. As part of the then Surgeon General’s new Protective Mobilization Plan to support World War II, WBGH was directed to establish schools to train enlisted medical technicians in the first thirty days of a mobilization. The new construction at WBGH for the technicians school included two forty-man officer’s quarters, an officer’s mess and kitchen, an enlisted men’s mess and kitchen, four classrooms, a headquarters building, thirteen 63-man barracks, a storeroom, and three recreation buildings. The school opened in April of 1941 and operated until December 1945. The school trained approximately 16,000 students with a maximum of 800 students in each class. Due to the shortage of medical technicians as they were in high demand in the 1940s, the Medical Department began accepting Women Army Corps (WAC) recruits into its technician schools in 1944. The first WACs arrived at WBGH in December 1944 and by June 1945, a total of 1,028 WACs had been trained at the school.
To enable the hospital to keep up with he increasing demand for quality medical care, the War Department announced an expansion program for WBGH in February 1942. The local El Paso firm of Trost and Tros served as the architects of the project. The project added five standard hospital wards, a barracks building, an infirmary, a recreation building, and nurses quarters to the hospital annex.
In December 1943, the Surgeon General designated WBGH as a specialty center for plastic surgery, ophthalmic surgery, neuropsychiatry, and deep radiation therapy. In addition to these specialites, the hospital also provided a fully-equipped physical therapy and occupation center and plastic eye clinic, and was also the histopathological diagnostic center for the surrounding area.
In 1944, battle casualties from the European and pacific theaters began arriving at WBGH. The patient census rose from 800 to 6000 the following year. In order to meet the increased demand for beds, the War Department consolidated its resources on Fort Bliss by combining the Fort Bliss Station Hospital and the a medical annex nearby Biggs Army Airfield with WBGH, making WBGH one of the Army’s largest hospitals. In the last year of WWII, WBGH treated a total of 26,358 patients.
After WWII, the Medical Department had a total of 63 hospitals and closed 53 of them to run peacetime operations. WBGH was one of the 10 hospitals to remain open and serve the post-war Army. Although operating at a minished capacity for the next several year, WBGH continued serving patients requiring specialized and prolong treatment.
During the Korean war, many failed attempts to construct new hospitals by the Army Medical Department pushed them to only provide improvements to their current facilities. In the mid-1950s, WBGH received a new obstetrical suite, surgical suite, six operating rooms, x-ray facilities, and a 16-bed recovery ward with supply rooms were added.
In 1969, the Army began construction of a new, 12-story hospital to the west of the WBGH area. Completed in 1972, the new facility became known as the William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC). The building was in the modernism architectural style, with a 124 feet tower. Although originally designed for 611 beds, by the early 1980s the hospital had a capacity of 463. The Omar N. Bradley building, an addition to the west-side of the hospital, was opened in 1982; it provided an additional 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) of clinical and administrative space.