Army's Walter Reed hospital closing

July 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army's 102-year-old flagship hospital in Washington, is preparing to close its doors for the last time, officials said.

The hospital, which has treated presidents and wounded service members from World War I to the war in Afghanistan, began preparations Wednesday to move patients and staff to two other military hospitals in Maryland and Virginia, the Voice of American reported.

Although Walter Reed was the subject of a scandal in 2007 when reports surfaced that some veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were housed in substandard accommodations and had problems getting their veterans' benefits, the decision to close the hospital was not the result of the scandal, officials said.

The closure had been planned since 2005 as a cost-cutting measure, they said.

A number of U.S. presidents have been treated at Walter Reed, including former President Dwight Eisenhower, who died there in 1969.

Some of the buildings on the hospital grounds will likely be preserved as historic landmarks, officials said.

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