By Mollie Miller

Killeen Daily Herald

Darnall Army Community Hospital officials confirmed Tuesday that the hospital has been selected to become the Armys newest medical center.

The medical center designation is the first step, and we will grow into the future Darnall over time, said Col. Loree Sutton, hospital commander. Now is the time to start our planning efforts.

By definition, an Army medical center differs from an Army community hospital in size and in the services it offers. Medical centers have more sophisticated equipment, more specialized staffs and a wider array of specialty care.

What the future Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, as the facility will be called after May 1, will look like remains to be decided. The process of becoming a medical center, Sutton said, could take up to 10 years.

There will be no dramatic changes, initially, she said.

However, the name change is significant as it relates to our ability to plan for expanded facility requirements, specialty care services and vital training programs in the future.

In the beginning stages of the transition, Sutton said much work is being done to assess the needs of the community and the needs of the Army to determine how Darnall will change as it grows into a medical center.

We must assess the needs of our community ... and design health support services accordingly that reflect those needs, Sutton said. Serving soldiers and their loved ones is what we do best their needs must come first.

One area that will change is the size of the staff. Sutton said staffing levels will be adjusted over time to reflect the requirements of a medical center.

Current analysis of the needs of the community also will shape plans for the posts new main facility, expected to be built near the Clear Creek Post Exchange. While funding has not been approved for the construction, Sutton said planning will prepare her team to proceed with the project when authorized to do so.

Construction will continue on all Darnall-related projects, including the hospitals construction on the Womens Health and Birthing Center, the new emergency department and the new West Fort Hood Clinic.

We will grow into our future incrementally, Sutton said. We look forward to furthering our legacy of providing quality care for our soldiers and their loved ones past, present and future.

A redesignation ceremony has been scheduled for May 1 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the hospitals main entrance. The ceremony is open to the public.

Contact Mollie Miller at

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