- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

An accountant with close ties to D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and two medical administrators previously involved with three failing hospitals are offering to buy cash-strapped Greater Southeast Community Hospital with the city's help, high-level hospital sources told The Washington Times.
Citing a formal proposal document, hospital sources said the Frederick Douglass Regional Group (FDRG) is offering to buy Greater Southeast, Hadley Memorial and D.C. General hospitals for $20 million and chip in $5 million for improvements. The for-profit group of mostly D.C.-based individuals aims to finance the venture via city-issued industrial revenue bonds and to seal the deal by May 1.
"FDRG can revitalize the city's current [Greater Southeast] health system," the sources said, reading aloud from the proposal document. "Conversations have been held with the city council and the mayor's office. Both entities are supportive of moving this plan forward."
However, several D.C. Council members said they had not seen the proposal.
"I haven't seen it, and I clearly am not going to support something I haven't seen," said council member Kevin Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat who opposed the partial closing of D.C. General in 2001. "We can't just support something blindly. That is what got us into this mess in the first place."
City Administrator John Koskinen yesterday said one of the proposal's principals medical administrator Michael Barch "dropped by a few weeks ago" to assess whether the city would support such a plan.
"It was a preliminary inquiry," Mr. Koskinen said. "I told him we would be supportive of a viable group that could buy and successfully run the hospital. It is in the city's best interest to keep Greater Southeast running."
Mr. Koskinen said that he had not seen a formal proposal, and that the claim of city support was "a bit of puffery" to drum up support.
Another of the principals named in the proposal accountant Jeffrey Thompson said through his attorney that he is not involved in the offer, which was organized by Mr. Barch, who previously led D.C. General.
"Mr. Barch did approach [Mr. Thompson] and he considered it," said John Ray, Mr. Thompson's attorney. "But it was a verbal proposal. [Mr. Thompson] told him, no, that he had no interest in buying Greater Southeast. His only interest is in the hospital remaining viable."
Mr. Barch, former head of the Public Benefit Corp. (PBC), which ran the District's public health care system, has not returned calls seeking comment.
Greater Southeast, which is operated by Doctors Community Healthcare Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., filed for bankruptcy protection in November after its primary lender National Century Financial Enterprises had done the same. Doctors Community also owns Hadley Memorial and D.C. General, as well as two hospitals in California and one in Chicago. D.C. General, which had provided the city's health care for the poor, was partially closed in 2001 after being purchased by Doctors Community.
The Frederick Douglass Regional Group wants to change Greater Southeast's name to the Frederick Douglass Regional Medical Center to remove the "stigma" of the current name, hospital sources said.
To secure its proposed financing deal, the group would have to submit its plan to the bankruptcy court.
According to the proposal, the Frederick Douglass Group consists of five principals, including Mr. Thompson, Mr. Barch and Peter Shin.
Mr. Thompson, a key campaign contributor to Mr. Williams, is the founder of the Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio and Associates accounting/consultancy firm. He also owns D.C. Chartered Healthplan, a health maintenance organization that processes claims for the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, the mayor's reform plan for indigent health care.
Mr. Barch has run George Washington University Hospital, Columbia Hospital for Women and D.C. General. He presided over the latter two before they were closed, and knowledgeable city sources said he was forced out from the first. Sources said that, according to the proposal, he would become president and chief executive officer of Greater Southeast, Hadley and D.C. General hospitals.
Mr. Shin is president and chairman of the 250-bed MedLINK Hospital on Capitol Hill, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2002. He previously tried to move MedLINK to the D.C. General site in 2001. Mr. Shin was unavailable for comment.
Other principals identified in the proposal: Dr. Robin Newton, formerly with the PBC, who would become executive vice president for clinical affairs for the hospitals, and James Carris, who would become the FDRG's chief financial officer. Efforts to contact Dr. Newton and Mr. Carris were not successful.

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