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Paul Offner’s accounting of the financial disaster that has been allowed to occur at the Public Benefit Corp. (“D.C. General Defibrillation,” 7/7) is very sobering. However, as usual, he compromises his credibility when he displays his obvious prejudice for the wealthy and the previously well-to-do hospitals that are now also suffering.
The Northwest and Northeast quadrants of the city have six full-service hospitals, in addition to Children’s Hospital and Columbia Hospital for Women. The Southeast and Southwest sectors of the city have only two full-service hospitals and Hadley Hospital, which is now possibly slated to become a long-term-care facility. The Southeast and Southwest sectors are the more populous sections of the city and have more low-income residents. Why should they have to give up the one full-service hospital in the area, which is also the busiest trauma service in the city?
Offner’s insistence on attempting to transform D.C. General Hospital into an outpatient center ignores the health issues for the patients we serve. Approximately 230 of the 1,500 major-trauma patients we serve every year arrive at our doors in extremis and must be in the operating room within five minutes if they are to survive. The next closest trauma service is seven to 10 minutes away by ambulance on a good day. The brain ceases to function after four minutes of being deprived of oxygen. These individuals would die if further transport were attempted. Some might like to categorize such patients as “gangbangers” who should die anywaybut they are human beings. They are also too often the innocents caught in the crossfire, working people who were minding their own business. Closing D.C. General Hospital would deprive the residents of obstetric, medical, surgical, and pediatric services. Why should these families have to leave their neighborhood and go across town to deliver their infants or to have their family members hospitalized?
The patients we serve, finally, have insurance attached to them. That is why the hospitals in the Northeast and Northwest sectors that are half-empty are interested in them. Why should Offner have such an allegiance to those hospitals?
I am by no means a supporter of John Fairmanbut Fairman is not the PBC or D.C. General Hospital! No, we should not be propped up. The city has been propping up its specific friends, not the PBC, too longwhich is why we find ourselves in this dire condition. D.C. General Hospital and the Neighborhood Health Centersthe PBCshould be supported with appropriate leadership, an interested board, a fair city council, and a dynamic mayor. We have some of the pieces in place for success now. The medical and dental staff and the rank-and-file employees who have always done the job for all of the patients who come to our door, regardless of their ability to pay, simply ask for the opportunity and privilege to continue to serve.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Nursery
D.C. General Hospital
Medical and Dental Staff
of the Public Benefit Corp.