- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2007

D.C. Council member David A. Catania wants to subpoena Greater Southeast Community Hospital executives and has raised the possibility of having a court-appointed receiver monitor the facility.

Mr. Catania, at-large independent, announced his plan yesterday at a hearing into recent city inspections that uncovered staffing and equipment troubles at the hospital.

City health inspectors found “a host of problems in all areas,” said Dr. Gregg A. Pane, director of the D.C. Department of Health, which recently fined the hospital $6,500.

Officials at Arizona-based Envision Hospital Corp., which owns Greater Southeast, did not attend the hearing, but sent a letter to Mr. Catania stating they have cooperated and will continue to do so.

“As a quality healthcare provider in the District of Columbia, Greater Southeast will continue to cooperate with the Department of Health’s formal process,” company attorney Peter Isakoff wrote.

Mr. Isakoff said Envision officials did not attend the hearing because Mr. Catania is engaged in a “calculated campaign to intimidate my clients.”

“We will not subject ourselves to your ongoing gratuitous defamations that are designed to coerce my clients into taking your evidently preferred course of action,” he said.

Mr. Catania, who wants Envision to sell Greater Southeast, discounted the criticism.

“They do what every lawyer does whenever they have no case,” he said. “They attack the witness. I’m the witness.”

Mr. Catania said the investigation found Greater Southeast was possibly overcharging Hadley Memorial Hospital for lab services, which eventually were paid by the government.

In one instance, he said, Greater Southeast charged Hadley $123 for ovarian cancer screening tests, while Washington Hospital Center charged only $29 for the same procedure.

At the time of the billing, Envision owned Hadley and Greater Southeast, Mr. Catania said.

“That represents self-dealing in my opinion,” he said.

Paul Tuft, chief executive for Envision, yesterday sharply disputed Mr. Catania’s account and questioned where the council member was getting his information.

“The cost was not the figure David claims,” Mr. Tuft said. “The [Department of Health] knows this and he knows this.”

Mr. Catania wants to find a new operator within months; Mr. Tuft has said he is trying to find a buyer.

He also said closure is not a possibility, but the District might ask a judge to appoint a receiver to run the hospital, which is the only hospital on the eastern side of the Anacostia River and primarily serves low-income patients.

“It is not a permissible alternative to close the hospital,” Mr. Catania said.

D.C. health officials said Greater Southeast has until today to submit a revised improvement plan to correct deficiencies found during the recent inspection.

Mr. Catania is planning to hold another hearing Friday on Greater Southeast.

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