Plans continue for closure of Providence Hospital's emergency care on April 30
Mar 25, 2019
Despite community opposition to the closure of Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., Ascension Health, the owner of the hospital, is continuing plans to stop providing emergency care services at the hospital on April 30.
The hospital was originally scheduled to close its emergency department when its license expired on Dec. 14, but after strong community opposition by those who feared the hospital’s closure would further exacerbate health care disparities in the city, that date was extended to April 30.
Ascension has said its decision to close the hospital was based both on declining patient volumes and on a desire to better respond to the district’s Community Health Needs Assessment of 2016. But opponents of the hospital’s closure, including many religious leaders, argued it would further exacerbate socioeconomic and racial disparities in the city, as 87 percent of the hospital’s patients are insured through either Medicare or Medicaid and 82 percent of the hospital’s patients are African-American.
In early March, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine motioned to dismiss the suit he had brought against Ascension in December, and a D.C. Superior Court judge closed the case. Though he had filed the lawsuit at the height of the community uproar about the hospital’s closure, Racine has since indicated that the city is now satisfied with plans submitted by the hospital to shut down most of its services. This removes the last major hurdle that could have prevented the hospital’s closure.
In addition, the hospital recently received a Certificate of Need approval to continue to provide primary care services after the inpatient acute care services have stopped. This is an important step toward Ascension’s vision of transforming the hospital into a campus that provides outpatient preventative care.
“Continuing to operate quality and timely primary care is crucial in our efforts to improve a person’s health rather than solely caring for people when they are sick,” said Patricia A. Maryland, Providence's board chair. “Securing continued access to primary care services on the campus helps meet the needs of the community, and we are pleased to take a step forward in this process of our transformation.”
Ascension Health has also announced that it plans to open an urgent care center on the site of the hospital in order to meet the need for District residents to receive timely medical attention. It will also continue to operate Carroll Manor nursing home.
“In our ongoing discussions in a variety of forums with community members, local leaders, physicians and caregivers, many participants identified a significant need for urgent care services,” said Maryland. “This effort will be part of our new vision for an innovative approach to improve the health of the community, inclusive of both health and services not traditionally considered part of healthcare but that have an impact on the health of individuals and communities.”
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