Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie issued the following statement upon passage of the Clarification of Hospital Closure Procedure Temporary Amendment Act of 2018:
“Everywhere I go in Ward 5 and across D.C., I talk to residents concerned about the proposed closure of Providence Hospital and equitable access to healthcare in the District.
St. Louis-based Ascension Health is the owner of Providence Hospital and its mission statement states “We are advocates for a compassionate and just society through our actions and our words.” I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the neighbors, patients, and employees of Providence Hospital who only ask that Ascension Health live up to its promise to be “compassionate and just.” Going back over a year, people who value Providence Hospital have been in the position of reacting to Ascension Health’s erratic and severe changes without adequate warning or an opportunity for conversation.
Since just August 2017 Ascension Health has: announced its intention to transition Providence Hospital to a “health village” without any additional outreach or information of what that really means; abruptly closed its obstetrics ward; fired nine of the twelve board members of Providence Hospital; and, finally, announced closure of all acute care services.
It is long past time for Ascension Health to be more transparent about their intentions. With today’s Council action, there can be no question that the District’s State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA) has the authority to approve or disapprove the closure of a hospital, and in doing so provide District residents with the transparency they seek.
At last week’s roundtable, we learned that SHPDA did not believe it had the authority to approve a hospital closure. The legislation passed today clarifies that ambiguity and – importantly – does not change the process articulated in the current statute. Today’s bill merely explains the process for hospital closures.
Providence Hospital employs approximately 1,300 people and has served over 22,000 people this year, 74% of whom are Black, 54% of whom are on Medicaid. The closure of an institution like Providence Hospital requires diligence and today’s legislation ensures that SHPDA is clear on its authority as well as its responsibility to District residents.”