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Walter L. Faggett, Vice President,
Medico-Chirurgical Society of the District of Columbia, Testimony at
“National Public Hospital Safety-Net in Crisis: D.C. General Hospital in Focus,”
A Congressional Hearing Sponsored by Rep. John Conyers
March 22, 2001




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Medico-Chirurgical Society of the District of Columbia, Inc.
(Affiliate of the National Medical Association)
P.O. Box 77013, Washington, D.C. 20013 (202) 347-4170


We, the physician members of Medico-Chirurgical Society of the District of Columbia are going on record in support of maintaining an integrated community oriented primary care system at D.C. General Hospital. Med-Chi feels very-strongly that continued services in support of inpatient acute-care, a Level 1 trauma service, psychiatric care/substance abuse, and graduate medical education programs are critical to efforts to improve the health status of D.C. residents.

Residents of the District of Columbia have some of the worst health care indices in the country. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, alcoholism, infant mortality and AIDS afflict our residents at alarming rates. An improved health care delivery capacity at D.C. General Hospital is one of the critical elements we believe must be present to reverse the current trends, especially in Wards 6, 7 and 8.

We, in Med-Chi believe that, at a minimum, a new 150-bed in-patient acute care hospital is needed to provide access of quality care for the patients being served. While we recognize that there may be an abundance of hospital beds in the District of Columbia, the area serviced by D.C. General Hospital suffers from no such surplus. Eliminating the presence of in-patient care beds at D.C. General Hospital will adversely affect the health status of those residents most in need of hospital services. The patients traditionally served by D.C. General Hospital have less access to quality health care services than most other district residents. Maintaining the presence of D.C. General Hospital is critical to maintaining access to health care for these underserved residents. Access to quality care must take precedence over profit motivation. The transportation needs of this patient population will be greatly increased in absence of the availability of D.C. General Hospital.

The continued presence of Level 1 trauma services at D.C. General is critical to preventing additional loss of life due to trauma especially for residents in Wards 6, 7, and 8. While we recognize that there may be a surplus of Level 1 trauma units in the city, no such abundance exists in the area serviced by D.C. General Hospital. Eliminating the presence of a Level 1 trauma service in this area of the city will result in delays in residents being treated for their injuries, which will have an adverse impact on patient care outcomes. We agree with the Washington Hospital Center concern that existing trauma units will be overwhelmed with uninsured patients in absence of the D.C. General trauma unit.

The provision of psychiatric services, including substance abuse at D.C. General Hospital, is another critical element in improving the health care status of District residents. Once again, we are talking about a population which has had diminished access to medical services, including mental health and substance abuse services. It is critical that such services continue to be provided at D.C. General Hospital during this transition period.

One aspect of D.C. General Hospital that has not received the attention it deserves is its graduate medical education program. Over the years, D.C. General has served as the training grounds for a significant number of physicians. Many of the members of the Medical Society, which is 116 years old, received their residency training at DCGH. The expertise gained by residents and fellows in DCGH's teaching program has provided the springboard to valuable and significant contributions by minority physicians to the field of health worldwide. Minority medical graduates face diminished access to residency training. Maintaining graduate medical education programs at D.C. General Hospital is critical to having a well trained cadre of health care professionals available to provide services to the underserved residents treated by D.C. General Hospital.

We the physician members of the Medico-Chirurgical Society can be a valuable resource to the District Government and we are concerned that we have not been asked to assist in this critical community health care issue previously. At this time, we are coming forward and will continue to participate in the resolution of this problem to assure that our patients have access to quality health care in a seamless integrated health care system which includes wellness and preventive health capacity in addition to primary care.

Dr. Henry Williams is the President of Med-Chi and may be reached at (202) 347-4170. Dr. Walter Faggett may be reached at (202) 487-0542.

Walter L. Faggett, M.D.
Vice President

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