The decision to close the District of Columbia’s United Medical Center, a public hospital, last December left residents in the city’s disadvantaged Wards 7 and 8 without a readily accessible hospital for the delivery of newborns. Since then, D.C. government officials have been contemplating building a new public hospital.
A recent opinion piece published in the Washington Post makes the case that “the closing of obstetric services at UMC presents the District with both a crisis and an opportunity.” The author, Marsha Lillie-Blanton, an associate research professor in The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, points out that even small hospitals typically consume an inordinate share of the health-care dollars available in a community. For this reason, she contends that “the vision for a health system that improves the health of residents [in Wards 7 and 8] needs to be broader than building a new hospital.”
Lillie-Blanton asserts that District officials need “to think carefully about whether dollars that would be allocated toward building a new public hospital could be invested more wisely in primary care services and in components of the social safety-net such as education, housing, and job training that create opportunities for healthier living in Wards 7 and 8.”
Read the op-ed piece here