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Medical Society of the District of Columbia
Statement by Stuart F. Seldes on DC General Hospital
February 6, 2001




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Medical Society of the District of Columbia

For Immediate Release
2175 K Street, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20037-1841

Telephone: 202.466.1800
Fax: 202.452.1542

CONTACT: David Love, phone 202-466-1800, ext. 114, e-mail love@msdc.org

MSDC Emphasized Importance of Inpatient Services in Statement on the Future of DC General Hospital

Statement by MSDC President Stuart F. Seldes, MD

February 6, 2001 - Stuart F. Seides, MD, president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia gave the following statement today at a press conference on DC General Hospital that was organized by the Health Care Now Coalition:

"For centuries, physicians have adhered to the oath, Primum non nocre -- First, do no harm. It is against this standard that we must measure the Administration's transformation plan for DC General Hospital and the Control Board's requests for proposal (RFPs). After months of study and dozens of meetings, it is clear to MSDC that the plan to eliminate the acute care beds and/or substantially reduce hospital services at DC General will, in fact, cause harm to patients, "It is for that reason that the Medical Society joins so many others in calling for a plan which guarantees inpatient services to residents in Wards 6, 7, and 8 who are in need of these services. No one in this city should sit idly by while healthcare services are denied to some of the City's most vulnerable populations.

"DC General Hospital has a long and proud tradition -- not only in serving the residents in its immediate catchment area and across the City -- but also in training many of the physicians who now treat patients in metropolitan Washington and throughout the country. However, our purpose today is not to just protect a tradition, but to protect patients. The Medical Society is here today repreisenting the thousands of Washington physicians who advocate for patients and who, as members of the DC community, care deeply about our City.

Six months ago we agreed with the Mayor that the status quo at DC General was not sustainable -- and we offered to assist him and his staff in revising the Community Access Hospital model so as not to put patients at risk. As we studied the Administration's plan in greater detail, it became clear to us and others that there were fundamental flaws -- relating to quality patient care -- that could not he overcome.

"At the same time, we have seen very significant progress at the Public Benefit Corporation and have every confidence that the new management team led by CEO Michael Barch can succeed if given some time and needed resources. We are pleased with what we have seen so far.

"As physicians, we care deeply about our patients' well-being -- no proposal eliminating inpatient services at DC General Rospital would be in tbe beat interest of patients. These proposals appear to he driven by a financial, bottomline mentality that, however well-intentioned, puts patients at risk.

"We will continue to advocate for our patients. We can do nothing less."

The Medical Society of the District of Columbia is dedicated to the well being of physicians and their patients in metropolitan Washington. We advocate on behalf of our member physicians of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds; we promote high standards of charactcr and professionalism; and we ensure that phynicians are -- and are recognized as -- the primary professionals who define and guarantee high quality, appropriate, and cost-effective medical care. Above all, we aggressively defend the highest principle of all -- the integrity of the physician-patient relationship.

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