WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United Medical Center (UMC) Board reviewed several options presented by Veritas of Washington, LLC regarding its obstetrical unit and ultimately voted not to seek renewal of its restricted license to reopen the unit. The license was restricted last August by the D.C. Department of Health in response to deficiencies in patient care.
UMC Board Chair LaRuby May commented on the decision: “We remain committed to the residents and patients of this community. The unfortunate reality about OB is this: long before the DOH decision to restrict OB, mothers made a conscious choice not to deliver their babies at United Medical Center. We will work with the DOH through this transition period and look forward to doubling down our efforts to deliver high-quality in all the other services that we offer at United Medical Center.”
Many of the challenges that UMC faced with regard to operating a fulltime obstetrical unit stem from the fact that the majority of their obstetrical patients present at the end of their pregnancy through the Emergency Department. That, coupled with a low volume of patients, has made it costly to provide the level of staffing required to care for OB patients and their newborns.
The three options presented to the Board included: 1) the OB unit remaining closed; 2) the OB unit reopening under an OB coverage model which was what was previously in place; and 3) the OB unit reopening under a Women’s Health approach which would be comprised of a full service OB unit with dedicated staff and regional physicians’ practices providing a pipeline of patients.
The Board vote was based on the goal of not replicating the previous model and leaves open the potential for revisiting the Women’s Health approach at a later date due to the investments of time, management and resources that would be needed for such an approach to be successful.
OB services will still be readily available to Ward 7 and 8 residents through a recently announced partnership between Howard University Hospital and Unity Health Care to offer prenatal care at community clinics in Southeast. Based on data provided in the DOH’s Health Systems Plan, the District currently is well below capacity with regard to obstetrical beds at other area hospitals and should also be able to handle Ward 7 and 8 patients.
About United Medical Center (UMC)
The Not-for-Profit Hospital Corporation, commonly known as United Medical Center or UMC, is a District of Columbia government hospital (not a private 501(c)(3) entity) serving Southeast DC andsurrounding Maryland communities.