Mayor Gray Announces Plan to Build New Hospital on St. Elizabeths East Campus


From the Mayor’s Office:

“Mayor Gray and other officials today announced a plan to invest approximately $300 million in a brand-new hospital on the St. Elizabeths East Campus designed to replace the aging District-owned United Medical Center (UMC) on Southern Avenue SE.

Mayor Gray said the plan was the most sensible one to follow to ensure both the availability of high-quality medical care on the East End of the District and the fiscal health of the District – with the added bonus of helping to catalyze further economic development on the historic St. Elizabeths East Campus.

“We know how imperative it is for us to have a full-service hospital on the East End of our city – and, in 2010, the District took control of what is now known as United Medical Center,” Mayor Gray said. “However, it has been difficult for the District to own and operate United Medical Center in a way that is fiscally responsible. Frankly, unless we take decisive action, the hospital will continue to be a ‘money pit’ for District taxpayers.”

He noted that, in the last decade, District taxpayers have spent at least $160 million in subsidies for the current UMC – with no end in sight.

“Unless we have the courage and vision to act decisively now to solve the problem once and for all, the hospital will fail – and the District will have spent all these hundreds of millions of dollars without anything to show for our efforts,” Mayor Gray said. “I have come to the conclusion that building an entirely new hospital on the St. Elizabeths campus makes the most sense for the District in the long run.”

Mayor Gray listed several reasons for investing in a new hospital rather than capital improvements at the current UMC facility:

· Even after making a minimum of a $100 million capital investment in the nearly 50-year-old facility, the District would still be forced to cover $6-8 million annually in facilities maintenance – twice what a new facility would cost in maintenance costs;

· Investing in the current site does not offer the District a meaningful rebranding opportunity for the hospital;

· The current site is not Metro-accessible;

· And none of this investment would meaningfully increase the chances of the District attracting a high-quality operating partner for the hospital.

Mayor Gray contended that, while more costly in the short run, building an entirely new United Medical Center at St. Elizabeths would provide the most long-term advantages as well as a long-term solution to the problem of maintaining high-quality medical services east of the Anacostia River:

· It would allow the District to begin implementing its plans for long-term reform much more quickly than investing in the current United Medical Center campus;

· It would provide a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility – affording the District a major rebranding opportunity and the potential for significantly increased market share that goes along with it;

· It would cut the ongoing costs for facility maintenance and improvement in half;

· The site would offer much better access to public transportation from across Wards 7 and 8 as well as other parts of the area;

· It would greatly strengthen the likelihood of attracting a high-quality operating partner for the hospital;

· And it would further catalyze economic development on the St. Elizabeths campus, serving as yet another focus to attract subsidiary offices, dining, and retail options to service the thousands of employees and visitors for the new hospital.

The Mayor included a feasibility study for the project in his Fiscal Year 2014 Budget. His Fiscal Year 2015 Budget will include $20 million for the design of the new hospital, while the $300 million for its construction would be divided among the three following fiscal years ($93 million each in Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, and the remaining $114 million in Fiscal Year 2018).

The District government would seek to identify an operating partner prior to breaking ground on the hospital, leveraging it as part of the partnership negotiations and allowing the partner input into construction decisions.”

32 Comment

  • How about a public mental hospital? Remember when the mentally challenged had somewhere to live? Remember when there were only those that refused treatment whom where homeless? Remember when the mentally challenged didn’t give their children away to strangers, remember when there were safe adequate housing for those mentally challenged whom were non-violent?

    Oh yeah, that’s right, it was the 70’s before the crack epidemic rolled through the middle class like a typhoon. That was when our Mayor was Barry, the city actually cared about the elderly, children and those that could not care for themselves. You know that time, when the 60 square miles called DC had a heart….

    • I agree with you about the need for healthcare — including inpatient — for the mentally ill, but to point to the 70’s as time of glorious bliss in DC is some serious revisionist history.

      Oh, and Barry contributed to that crack epidemic that came later.

      • And you were here then? Also, how did Barry CONTRIBUTE to the crack epidemic? Did he fund the ships that brought the cocaine? DC wasn’t shiny and clean (still isn’t, not with all the dead chicken in RC park) but it was a community. There were no missing kids, teachers came to your house, everyone on the block looked out for the elderly (they didn’t wander away from their birthday parties and then murdered). Criminals were known to the Police, and even said criminals looked out for little kids and old folks. Respect was paramount (folks didn’t piss on your back fence in broad daylight, puke between cars in broad daylight in front of little kids). Drug users, used drugs and were/are still our best clientele of DC Jail…

        • Barry was buying the crack himself… Crackhead!

        • saf

          I was here then. And I think you have your rose-colored glasses on.

          Also, Reagan shut down mental health services on a national level. It was everywhere, not just here.

          • Mental patient de-institutionalization was a nationwide trend that had more to do with local budgets and changes in the legal status of mental patients than the Reagan administration. It happened because states were legally forced to release mental patients who weren’t an imminent suicide or homicide risk, but not legally forced to provide the much more expensive community outpatient services that legal advocates had envisioned.

  • What convenient timing!

  • Murial Bowser can be proud: because of her campaign, the District might make a major investment in public health care facilities. She’s not even elected and she’s bringing change we can believe in. (Might still vote for Tommy, though).

    • Source?

      I’m not a fan of Bowser (based on what I’ve read from those in her district). I was inclined to vote for Evans, but after seeing the poll numbers in yesterday’s WaPo I’m more inclined to triangulate the following: Vote for Grey in the primary, then Catania in the general (Catania wins, while he would lose to Bowser according to the WaPo poll).

      • He’s saying that Gray is announcing this because he’s scared he’ll lose to Bowser. It’s a last-minute $300M kiss to the wards he needs to turn out if he has any hope of winning.

      • Plus one for Gray primary vote and Catania in the general

        Bowser has been worthless to Ward 4, and will likely be worse as Mayor.

      • Don’t forget the WP endorsed her and they have a record of marking people they endorse with LOSER on their forehead so they will say anything to keep up the numbers. No way Bowser loses to Catania.

    • Still not going to vote for her.

  • Great news!

  • This won’t happen. It’s desperate pandering before the election. Next, Gray will announce out-of-town churchgoers can park illegally! Oh wait….

    • gotryit

      I’m still seething after that ridiculous pandering. I can’t believe I once thought of voting for Gray. Glad I didn’t now.

      • I’m more disappointed in Wells’ pandering. At least Gray has a chance to win. His pandering is shameless, but it makes strategic sense. Wells knows he’s not going to win, and he still doesn’t have the guts to stand up to the churches.

        • gotryit

          I think that working with churches is the right answer. Right now it’s too much of an either-or situation, but I think that there are ways to work around the issue that don’t involve either 1. telling someone to get out of town or 2. parking on my front porch and telling me to f-off because of slavery (ok, that hasn’t quite happened).

          • Except no one is telling anyone to get out of town when they disfavor tolerance of illegal parking. Maybe some people secretly hope all the churches will pack up and leave, but stating that people should park legally isn’t directly or indirectly calling for that. I can’t think of many other issues where the basis for policy disagreement makes so little sense. I know, I know–it’s the meta arguments.

          • gotryit

            You’ve never heard someone say: “Why don’t you just move your church to MD?” I have, and I think it’s polarizing. I’m all for politicians helping find a creative solution that doesn’t hurt everyone. Like, making connections with between churches and owners of unused / underused lots on Sunday.

          • I have heard statements along the lines of “if you can’t go to church in DC without parking illegally, maybe you should move your church to MD.” I understand that can sound hostile–the whole discussion can. But I think the message relates to relocating behavior (i.e. illegal parking) to a place where it can be done legally. In a social context, it’s like asking someone to stop talking in the movie theater. To the extent that people take the attitude that what is really being said is “get out of here, lower income black people,” I think that’s a bizarre interpretation. I personally don’t know anyone who thinks that, but I’m not so naive to think that the number is zero.

          • What I don’t understand is why can’t they park legal? Why are they allowed to park illegally. I could own a huge home right in front of a church and if I parked illegally no one would look the other way they would ticket me. Why are Marylanders and Virginians allowed to park illegally on Sundays for church and as a homeowner in the city I am never given a break on parking. Wish someone would explain that to me or give all DC residents one day in the week where they can park as crazy as they like and not get a ticket.

        • How is Wells pandering on this issue? The only thing I’ve seen is his proposal to create an office reporting to the mayor that works with churches on issues like this. He’s not giving them carte blanche to park wherever they want; he’s saying churches, communities and the government should work together to find a solution. I think that’s fair. Am I missing something?

          • gotryit

            I agree with you – I don’t think it is pandering. I think it’s the appropriate position for a mayor. Then again, maybe I’m just biased towards seeing Wells in a good light.

      • Even if the pandering results in something good for the city — that might not happen otherwise? I’m a bit on the fence for a variety of reasons, including being cynical about the ability to get needed services WITHOUT the politics and pandering.

        • gotryit

          A hospital – sure, if it’s a good thing to do then lets do it. I agree with you, without the politics would be better.

          I’m more pissed about Gray berating “new people” in washington for complaining about illegal parking on Sunday. Either make it legal (in a safe way) or STOP DOING IT. Gah, blood pressure…

    • saf

      I just don’t understand why they think that gets them votes.

  • So this will supposedly be built on the East Campus and not the West Campus (that’s all boarded up)? Or are they going to repurpose the existing buildings on the West Campus? I’ve always wanted to see the inside of the buildings on the closed portion of the campus.

  • I can see Gray is in full 100% pander mode. No property tax for seniors making over 60K a year (which is a lot for a retired person, who also by the way already gets heavily subsizided property tax as a senior citize), a new Hospital in Ward 8, because nothing says “good idea” like blowing 300 million dollars building something new when you’ve already dropped 130 million on the existing one that you can’t manage.

    • A few months ago, there were posts here and in the Post relating to elderly, often ill people losing their homes because of liens against their homes due to unpaid property taxes — in very small amounts. If only to avoid this, I’d support the plan to eliminate property taxes for seniors making under $60,000. $60,000 may be a lot — in your opinion — but it’s not enough to pay someone to handle your mail and bills. The idea that someone who worked and payed taxes for decades could lose their home due to forgetfulness or confusion, or a lengthy period of illness is, to me, unconscionable. If this measure will address that, I’m all for it.

  • Not a fan of Gray but back in the 70’s and before we did mental health all wrong. I think if we try it again we could get it right. Back then we just warehoused people and treated them horribly and no one ever knew about it. We have cameras and all sorts of things to monitor it now. We do background checks and screen employees and have standards we didn’t have before. It doesn’t have to be “Snake Pit” anymore. For those too young to know what that reference is, it is a movie. Letting people sleep under bridges and beg for food and self medicate with booze shouldn’t be the “other” solution. We should also reconsider orphanages too cause the group home/foster system is turning out to be a nightmare

  • Anyone with a half a brain can understand that the current mayor was aligned with Jeffrey Thompson and his successful and highly illegal “shadow campaign”. No thanks to crackhead Barry (but thanks to Tony Williams and Fenty) we’ve had unprecedented investment in our city. That investment allowed for surpluses, teacher salary increases, and unprecedented investment in upgrading the schools. Gray needs to go! Any of the candidates running are preferable to this fraudster. Promising $300 million to support a failed health program for Ward 8 is a pitiful ploy. By the way, that $300 million works out to $500 for every mam, woman, and child resident in dc. Given that half of these folks don’t pay taxes (they’re students, retires, or unemployed), that works out to $1,000/per dc taxpayer. That’s why this Barry-esque crap (promising huge “freebies”) needs to STOP! Gray, you will convicted of fraud soon. Dc voters, don’t miss this chance to vote this crude out and teach the pols that corruption is career suicide in dc.

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