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Fort Bragg Finishes Work On High-Tech Medical Facility

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FORT BRAGG — Fort Bragg's new Womack Army Medical Center features new medical technology that will improve health care in and around Fayetteville.

The new facility will have 5,000 rooms, 19 elevators, robots and more than five miles of corridors.

It will be more than a million square feet and have a price tag of a quarter of a billion dollars plus millions more for equipment.

Ground was broken in 1992 for the replacement of the existing Womack Hospital. The massive project has taken a long time, but it is ready to offer the most modern medical care available.

The new Womack Army Medical Center sits on a 165-acre site, which includes 2,600 parking spaces. Three buildings are connected by walkways. More than a mile of murals decorate the huge complex.

Expanded facilities were needed in the Fort Bragg area.

"We have one of the larger active duty populations in the nation so we needed a new facility to support the population we have," says Sgt. Shaun Harniss, spokesman for Womack Army Medical Center.

The number of patient beds can be expanded from 150 to more than 400 if required.

Diagnostic equipment includes the latest MRI. Computerized tomography normally takes from five to 20 minutes. At Womack Army Medical Center, the equipment can do a full body scan in 20 seconds.

All monitoring is digital. Radiologists and physicians can confer and share images by phone link or on the Internet.

"This allows us to interpret images from home if we're on call or if a soldier is in Europe, they'll have access to the images from Europe or anywhere in the world for that matter," says Dr. David Graterex, a radiologist.

A soaring patient tower looks like a mall on the lower level. Outpatient clinics look like storefronts. Patients will soon be using an advanced physical therapy room.

Robots take care of doling out supplies and can fill up to 500 prescriptions a day.

"Even though the robot fills the prescription, before it goes out the window, a human checks it to make sure it's the right pill, the right tablet and the right label on the bottle," Harniss says.

The new facility will be dedicated Thursday. Although a very large facility, original plans called for a bigger hospital.