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DC's only hospital east of the river doesn't have a trauma center

Advocates with the District of Columbia Nurses Association are fighting to get trauma care at United Medical Center and the new hospital on St. Elizabeth's campus.

WASHINGTON — Nurses said that services at D.C.'s United Medical Center have been increasingly stripped back for years, putting a strain on both them and their patients.

"I mean, one nurse with seven patients with multiple system problems, it's no way we can do everything that we love to do to make that patient well," registered nurse Judy Jenkins said. 

Jenkins has worked at UMC for 35 years.

"This is my home for 12 hours, 3 times a week, sometimes 4 times," she said. "We care about what happens to the patients that actually come here, even though we don't live in the community."

RELATED: United Medical Center gets dedicated funding in 2020 after DC budget vote

UMC is the only hospital east of the river, and it does not have a trauma center. 

"Being in this ward, wards 7 and ward 8, that’s where we get all the trauma," Jenkins said.

The DC Council voted to close the hospital in 2023 for funding reasons in the hopes of providing a better option on St. Elizabeth's campus.

The initial 2018 release listed acute care, non-high risk obstetrics, urgent care, outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging and physician offices--not a trauma center. A spokesperson for the city administrator told WUSA 9 Friday that trauma care was still being discussed.

Right now, the closest trauma center for thousands of D.C. patients is Prince George's Hospital Center, which is scheduled to close and move next year.

RELATED: Prince George's Hospital Center saves hundreds of DC patients' lives a year. In 2021, it's moving away

"I do make an appeal to the city council," Jenkins said. "If you lived in this community and came to the closest hospital, what would be your expectations? … you want the best treatment. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?"

Nurses like Jenkins plan to ask that question in an upcoming oversight hearing March 5 at 10 a.m.

WUSA 9 reached out to Council Member Vincent Gray's team for an update and did not immediately hear back.

RELATED: Providence Hospital closes after 158 years | 'I think it will put a lot of people in jeopardy'

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