The D.C. Council debated a proposed change to plans to set up a new hospital east of the Anacostia River run by George Washington University Hospital during a long legislative session Tuesday.
The East End Health Equity Amendment Act of 2018 would be the culmination of a multiyear plan to open a new medical center in Wards 7 or 8, which have struggled with health-related issues in the absence of a nearby hospital.
The legislation would allow GWU Hospital to waive the “certificate of need” to speed up the project and would give the university permission to build a 270-patient tower at its Foggy Bottom campus as part of the deal.
However, the decision to award the contract for a new facility on the campus St. Elizabeths Hospital in Ward 8 has drawn criticism from Howard University Hospital.
Council member Vincent Gray, Ward 7 Democrat, told The Washington Times that he “cares deeply” about Howard University and that his father had worked there.
Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick tweeted Sunday that his school’s hospital could see a 40 percent patient reduction if George Washington University takes charge of the new hospital in Ward 8, where many Howard patients live, and that the number of U.S.-trained black physicians could decrease because Howard trains the majority of them.
Mr. Gray and council member Trayon White, Ward 8 Democrat, announced amendments Tuesday morning that would allow partnerships between the GWU and Howard at the new hospital.
Fourth-year Howard medical student Philise Williams, who is studying to be an obstetrician, organized a group of fellow medical students to come to the Wilson Building.
The North Carolina native applauded Mr. White’s amendment for its “very strong” partnership language, as opposed to Mr. Gray’s.
Mr. White’s amendment states that Howard University Medical Faculty Practice Plan be allowed to “transition some of its clinical and teaching operations to the East End Hospital” using an affiliation agreement with George Washington University Hospital.
Mr. Gray’s amendment says GWU must “consider” a Howard partnership, according to Ms. Williams.
“We literally just want the ability to still be doctors to the people who are our patients,” Ms. Williams said.
The D.C. Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 protested the plan to award George Washington University Hospital the contract for the new hospital, citing in a press release concerns that the current contract would allow the hospital to be non-union.
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