- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Howard University and D.C. officials yesterday said they have reached an exclusive rights deal to build a medical complex in Southeast that caps overall development and construction costs at $424 million.

Plans for the National Capital Medical Center at the site of the old D.C. General Hospital in Ward 6 include a trauma hospital, a research facility and a medical office building.

The project requires D.C. Council approval.

Howard University and D.C. officials said in a joint announcement yesterday that they would disclose details at a ceremonial signing tomorrow.

Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert said the project would address the city’s “most immediate health care needs” for about 140,000 residents who lack adequate access to medical services.

It is not clear what will happen to Howard’s hospital on Georgia Avenue if the project proceeds.

Howard University Hospital has wrapped up a difficult financial year. The hospital lost $17.3 million in fiscal 2005, after running at a tight profit since the mid-1990s.

D.C. officials have said the city will fund half the construction costs for the new hospital, but Howard will be required to subsidize the operating costs.

Projections call for the new hospital to operate at a deficit until the third year of operation.

Howard officials said their 2005 operating loss was caused largely by increased labor costs and new rules that limit the number of hours physician residents are permitted to work.

City Administrator Robert C. Bobb last week said the financial downturn wouldn’t hurt the District’s partnership with Howard, which has confirmed layoffs affecting 125 employees.

The D.C. Council is expected to review and vote on the exclusive rights agreement by April, said Howard University and D.C. officials.

— Jim McElhatton

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