- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Howard University officials said yesterday the loss of accreditation for its graduate training program in emergency medicine will not affect the school’s ability to build and operate a teaching hospital in Southeast.

Howard officials this month began formal talks with D.C. officials about plans to raze D.C. General Hospital and build a private facility — the National Capital Medical Center — to be run by the university.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams has indicated a willingness to commit city funds to help build the facility, but officials have yet to say how much money they plan to spend.

“We will help them to whatever extent we can, providing land, technical assistance and capital financing,” Mr. Williams said when he announced the plan earlier this month.

Mr. Williams and Howard University are expected to forward a detailed agreement to the D.C. Council by Jan. 15.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) next month will review how Howard is managing its 23 graduate medical-training programs.

Separate inspections by the same organization last year resulted in the loss of accreditation for Howard’s emergency medicine program. ACGME reviews medical training programs, but does not disclose the reasons a program loses its accreditation, an ACGME spokeswoman said yesterday.

The Howard University Hospital has not been faulted on patient care issues, however. A separate organization, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which reviews patient-care standards, said Howard University Hospital is in “full compliance” with all hospital treatment standards.

But the hospital’s training programs have come under criticism. Howard’s anesthesiology, radiation oncology and diagnostic radiology training programs are all operating under probationary status, the ACGME said. The council revoked accreditation of Howard’s pediatrics program last year, prompting the hospital to strike an agreement that allows its residents to practice at Children’s Hospital.

Sixteen of the hospital’s 23 graduate medical-education programs are in full compliance with the ACGME, said Dr. Victor Scott, interim senior vice president for health sciences at Howard.

In a report on Howard’s accreditation status released yesterday, Dr. Scott said the hospital needs to retain compliance in six training programs to keep its accreditation, and the school’s approach to graduate-level medical education is being reviewed.

“We are making substantive progress and we are probably half of the way through,” Dr. Scott said. “But we still have work to do before we [have]successfully recalibrated graduate medical education at the hospital.”

Howard officials say the training programs should not affect their ongoing talks with the city on plans for the new hospital facility.

“We’re strictly talking about accreditation of training programs only,” said Dr. Robin C. Newton, director of graduate medical education, referring to recent accreditation troubles. “It’s an extremely separate issue.”

Dr. Newton said the accreditation troubles began because the hospital failed to meet certain ACGME requirements. She said the rules mostly concern patient volume and the types of cases that resident doctors are required to treat.

“It’s not just patient numbers, it’s the types of cases, too,” she said. “Howard, in the past, has not done a good job in assessing its programs as far as those standards.”

Dr. Newton said Howard may partner with another hospital to train residents specializing in emergency medicine after the accreditation of Howard’s emergency program expires in seven months.

“We have made some important decisions and we are continuing our mission to train as many African-American and minority physicians as possible,” Dr. Newton said. “We’ll continue to have a variety of programs.”

Howard has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the District, ranking behind only Children’s National Medical Center, Washington Hospital Center and George Washington University Hospital. Last year, more than 45,000 patients sought emergency care at Howard.

The hospital employs nine residents in its emergency room, officials said.

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