DC orders hospital to suspend baby deliveries, prenatal care

The DC Department of Health has stopped a Southeast DC hospital from delivering any babies

WASHINGTON (AP) - Concern is mounting over United Medical Center, a hospital that serves some of the District's poorest residents.

The DC Department of Health announced that for 90 days, the hospital in Southeast, D.C. will not be allowed to deliver babies or continue it's nursery services.

This means many mothers will be out of luck until November.

"I feel like it's a terrible experience for new parents. They don't really know what's going on," said Maila Massey, a Southeast, D.C. resident and mother.

The hospital and health department isn't saying much about why. The hospital is only saying it's trying to fix problems when it comes to screening, treating patients and how they deliver.

The 90 day suspension doesn't affect other services at the hospital and could be lifted if the hospital complies with the new plan.

United Medical Center says Providence Hospital should be the most accessible for its Ward 7 and 8 patients, but that hospital is more than 30 minutes away from the hospital. 

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that district officials declined to say what prompted the suspension at United Medical Center. But the hospital is implementing a plan to improve those services.

Health department spokesman Tom Lalley said the agency was limited in what it could say about licensing decisions. A spokesman for United Medical Center did not respond to an e-mail and phone call seeking more information.

The long-troubled public hospital in Southeast Washington serves some of the city's poorest residents. Other services at the hospital are unaffected by the move.

A recent Department of Health report suggests other hospitals in the city can accommodate expecting mothers.

The following statement from United Medical Center was released on Wednesday:

"On August 7, 2017 the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) issued a notice to United Medical Center (UMC) restricting the hospital’s license for obstetric and related newborn services.

The restricted license, which applies only to obstetrical patients and their newborns, will be in place for a period of 90 days, during which UMC will be able to address the cited deficiencies. These include three separate cases involving deficiencies in screening, clinical assessment and delivery protocols. HIPAA regulations preclude sharing specific details of these cases, however, UMC is taking immediate action to address these deficiencies.
UMC is currently initiating the process of transitioning from a Level III neonatal intensive care center and we will be working to ensure that all physicians and nursing staff have appropriate training in policy and procedures. Until that process is complete, UMC will coordinate alternative services through Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and local hospital partners to care for our current obstetric patients.

Members of the public requiring emergency obstetric treatment are urged to use other D.C. facilities, with Providence Hospital recommended as the most accessible for Ward 7 and Ward 8 patients. Additional regional facilities with obstetrical capabilities include: Medstar Washington Hospital Center, George Washington University Hospital, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, Howard University Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Prince Georges Hospital Center, and Southern Maryland Hospital. Based on DOH’s Health Systems Plan, the District currently is well below capacity with regard to hospital beds and should be more than capable of accommodating UMC patients in the interim at these other facilities.

As a long-standing and integral part of the community, United Medical Center (UMC) looks forward to continuing to provide vital healthcare services to residents of Wards 7 and 8 as well as surrounding Prince George’s County, Maryland."

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Information from: The Washington Post

© 2017 Associated Press


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