FORT BLISS -- Beaumont Army Medical Center, one of the most influential medical institutions in El Paso, now has a new commander.
Brig. Gen. Dennis D. Doyle, who led the military hospital in El Paso for the past 18 months, relinquished command of Beaumont on Wednesday, and Col. Michael S. Heimall took over.
"It's a very, very exciting time to take command at William Beaumont," Heimall said. "There has been so much growth here at
Fort Bliss. My wife, Lynda, and I are very excited to be here."
About 200 people attended the change-of-command ceremony at Noel Field at West Fort Bliss.
Heimall, a native of Sussex, N.J., most recently was the assistant chief of staff for TRICARE Transition at Western Regional Medical Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash.
Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, commanding general for the Western Region Medical Command, officiated at the ceremony. Heimall is "the right person for this command assignment" and will continue to lead the Beaumont organization to the next level, Thomas said.
Heimall said he wants to take a look at how Beaumont operates before setting any major goals or changing anything.
"This (move) all materialized in about a month," Heimall said. "I've had a chance to look at some of the programs in place here, but I want to get to know the organization, know the leadership and spend some time with (Fort Bliss commander) Gen. (Dana J.H.) Pittard and other leaders at Fort Bliss and really gauge where we need to move the organization and continue on the success of Gen. Doyle."
Doyle, a native of Toledo, Ohio, took over command at Beaumont in May 2011. He is leaving El Paso to become the new commander at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. His new position in Hawaii also includes being the commanding general of the Pacific Regional Medical Command, lead agent of the U.S. Army Pacific Surgeon, chief of TRICARE Pacific and chief of the Army Medical Service Corps, which is a job Doyle has already been doing.
One of the biggest events during his tenure was the groundbreaking for a new $966 million Beaumont replacement hospital that's being built on East Fort Bliss and is scheduled to open in 2017. He was also promoted from colonel to brigadier general while at Beaumont.
Doyle called leaving Beaumont a "bittersweet day"
"We've been here at the boom time for Fort Bliss," Doyle said. "But having said that, I still think the best is yet to come."
During his 18 months at Beaumont, Doyle said, he's attended more ribbon cuttings and grand openings than at any other time in his 30 years of service. That reflects the tremendous growth that's been taking place at Fort Bliss, he said.
"You need a calculator with a lot of digits to account for the investment the country has put into Fort Bliss and soldiers and families here," Doyle said. "That's what makes this the premier installation in the nation."
Doyle and his wife, Lisa, have moved 21 times during his Army career.
Fort Bliss Garrison Commander Col. Brant V. Dayley said Beaumont has "an indescribable impact" on El Paso.
"It's something that attracts folks to live here and stay or attracts them to return after their service is over," Dayley said. "You can't beat the service, accessibility or quality of care."
Beaumont Army Medical Center serves active-duty service members, retired military and their families. It has an annual budget of more than $300 million and a staff of nearly 3,700. It sees about 400,000 people on an outpatient basis each year and averages about 78 patients who stay overnight each day.
It also has a Level 3 trauma center that helps serve the El Paso community.