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Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Mayor Assures Continued Operations of DC Healthcare Alliance
November 22, 2002




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Press release Mayor’s statement

News Release for Immediate Release
November 22, 2002

Mayor Assures Continued Operation of DC Healthcare Alliance

DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams spent most of the day meeting with advisors and healthcare partners assessing the potential impact that might result from ongoing financial problems affecting Greater Southeast Community Hospital and Hadley Memorial Hospital. Both hospitals are located in Southeast Washington. They are both subsidiaries of Doctors Community Healthcare, Inc.

Joined by Health Department Director James Buford and City Administrator John Koskinen, the mayor held a series of meetings with hospital administrators and health officials to plan for various contingencies that might be necessary depending on the outcome of court proceedings involving the corporations connected with the two hospitals. At issue are two distinct concerns: the first involves the role played by Greater Southeast as participant and contractor in the DC Healthcare Alliance, and the second is the larger issue of Greater Southeast and Hadley Memorial and their roles as providers in the city’s healthcare system.

Mayor Williams and other officials fielded questions at a press conference held in the Wilson Building on Friday afternoon. Representatives from Doctors Community Healthcare and Greater Southeast Hospital provided a status report on the court proceedings affecting their facilities and a detailed report on the current level of operations at Greater Southeast. At the present time, the hospital remains open and its emergency room is operational. They have met their payroll for this week, and major decisions by the courts thus far have been favorable to both hospitals.

Mayor Williams made brief remarks at the press conference and vowed to continue to provide updates and general information to the press and the public as warranted. The Department of Health will monitor the situation closely and continue to plan for contingencies. Greater Southeast will provide press releases on a regular basis (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) regarding its operation and the status of its court proceedings. The Alliance will continue to operate and provide services to its enrolled members.

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November 22, 2002

Mayor's Statement on DC Healthcare Alliance

"Let me begin by saying that all of us here—and many who could not be here—are working literally day and night to see that we do all we can to bring about a positive and long term solution to the problems that have recently surfaced regarding the financial situation at Greater Southeast and Hadley Memorial hospitals.

"We are involved in an ongoing dialogue with healthcare providers, with the Hospital Association, with members of the Council, with officials from the corporations involved, and we will continue this high level communication until this situation is resolved.

"Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of misinformation as to the current status of the operation at Greater Southeast and of the current status and future viability of the Healthcare Alliance.

"Let me first say that the Healthcare Alliance program that was put in place roughly 18 months ago has worked beyond expectations. It has provided a higher level of care to the District’s neediest residents. It is, in fact, a model public healthcare program and one that will continue to serve our city well for many years to come.

"It is important to understand how the Healthcare Alliance is structured and how that structure protects the program from problems that may arise from time to time with a particular provider or partner.

"The Alliance has 6 hospitals, over 30 clinics, and hundreds of individual healthcare practitioners in its system. They are all—in effect—under contract with the District to provide services to roughly 28,000 individual District residents who have enrolled in the program.

"Individuals enrolled in the program have health benefits equal to (and in some cases superior to) what they might be able to obtain from a private or public sector employer. They have full hospitalization coverage. They have preventative care, specialists, dental, and prescription drugs. They have a choice of providers—in most cases—and a practitioner network spread across the District delivering this service.

"No one hospital or one provider is essential to the operation. We have been able to attract several hospitals and dozens of clinics because the program has worked well and is financially solvent.

"LET ME MAKE THIS VERY CLEAR: The Healthcare Alliance is not experiencing any financial pressures. We are fully funded and no District monies are “at risk.” The Healthcare Alliance funds are not involved in the court proceedings affecting the hospitals. We are providing full and complete coverage to the enrollees in the program, and we will continue to do so REGARDLESS of the outcome of the financial problems currently facing Greater Southeast Hospital and Doctors Community Healthcare.

"At the end of this calendar year, the DC Healthcare Alliance will prepare an annual report that will detail the services that have been provided and give a full and complete picture of how well the program has worked. I am asking that the Department of Health complete this report by the end of January.

"I want to make it clear that I—and all of us here today—want very much to see Greater Southeast come out of its current financing problems. They have been a strong partner and a major employer in our region. We need to keep a full service hospital east of the Anacostia—we all share that goal and we will do all we can to bring about that outcome.

"But much of what will happen to the hospital will be determined by the reorganization process. As a provider—separate and distinct from its role as an Alliance partner—Greater Southeast (or some other qualified operator) needs to continue the operation of this facility, ideally at its current location.

"We need to provide healthcare and hospital access to all parts of the District. We are very aware of the problems that we are currently experiencing with emergency room operations throughout the District. We cannot afford to lose any additional ER and ICU capacity—our existing capacity is already stressed. It was stressed before the recent finance problems at Greater Southeast came to light, and I suspect we will struggle with this situation for some time to come. We will maintain an ongoing dialogue with our hospitals to make sure that the District government does its part to alleviate this pressure and not add to it.

"As we move ahead, I would ask that all parties involved in making the difficult decisions that lie ahead maintain a positive and productive outlook—ideally one that will bring about a long-term solution that benefits the residents and taxpayers of the District. We need to focus on the facts and discuss the issues without acrimony and political considerations. We have serious challenges ahead of us, and our residents deserve the best available information."

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