Fort Benning hospital pharmacy to remain closed on Saturdays due to budget cuts

North Columbus Medical Home to reopen on Fridays, however

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 12, 2013 

Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning will keep its main pharmacy closed on Saturdays, while the North Columbus Medical Home at Brookstone Centre will treat patients again on Fridays.

Those decisions, announced Monday, are the latest following the U.S. Department of Defense’s move last week to cut required civilian employee furlough days from 11 to six.

Fort Benning already said the commissary, which had been closed each Monday due to budget cuts, will reopen those days starting Aug. 19.

As for medical care, Martin Army public affairs chief Terry Beckwith said all “patient centered medical homes” will resume operations 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. That includes the North Columbus facility, which sees military family members. Its day starts at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9.

Winder Clinic sick call on Saturdays, meanwhile, will continue to be shifted to the main hospital, adjacent to the emergency department. Teachers and support staff avoided the five days of furloughs they were scheduled to take after the current school year began.

About 4,000 civilian workers at Fort Benning were impacted by the furloughs, which began the second week of July as the federal government mandated that its defense sector cut $37 billion from the fiscal year budget ending Sept. 30.

The Department of Defense will face an additional $52 billion in cuts in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 unless Congress votes to approve a federal budget that reduces part or all of that financial burden.

Heading into this summer, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asked managers and planners to seek ways to slice overall expenses to reduce the unpaid days off for civilian workers, leading to last week’s announcement. Yet, he still had words of caution.

“As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges,” Hagel said.

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