- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

D.C. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb yesterday said the city is in tense negotiations with the private partners of the D.C. Healthcare Alliance at the same time hospital administrators sought to denounce the program.

The current contract with the alliance will be extended for another 30 days while the D.C. Council works to approve the 10th modification. Mr. Bobb said a final round of talks will be held next week with the eight member hospitals and clinics and D.C. Chartered Health Plan — the alliance’s management organization.

“Next Wednesday will be the big day,” Mr. Bobb said at Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ weekly press briefing. “I asked the alliance partners to get together and come back by then with a number on how much the alliance should cost. It will determine if we can or cannot live together.”

The D.C. Healthcare Alliance is the $80 million safety net the city created to provide health care to the indigent after closing D.C. General Hospital in 2001.

“There is significant disagreement between D.C. officials and alliance staff over the costs for health care services,” Mr. Bobb said.

“Each member of the alliance has a different number, and I told them what we are not going to have is a situation where every year one or all of them want more money.”

Mr. Williams yesterday reiterated his displeasure with statements made by officials at George Washington University Hospital that the alliance is “in collapse.”

The Washington Times first reported last week that GW Hospital’s director of emergency medicine, Dr. Robert Shesser, had improperly diverted an ambulance transporting a critically ill patient from Southeast.

D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, said memos from Fire and Emergency Medical Services paramedics and accounts from residents about the practice of diverting patients from Southeast led him to believe racial bias was involved.

Daniel M. McLean, chief executive officer for GWU Hospital and chairman of the D.C. Hospital Association, called the accusations of racial bias “fallacious” and said the incident was the direct result of the poor condition of the alliance.

Political insiders at the John A. Wilson Building said the comments made by Mr. McLean were nothing more than political pandering during the tenuous contract negotiations.

“Any allegations of discrimination or bias have to be taken with the most gravity and I would be shocked if anyone at GW would condone this behavior, but [this incident] is totally separate from the alliance,” said Mr. Williams, who called for an investigation of the incident last week.

The Times reported yesterday that a preliminary report from the EMS found that Dr. Shesser erroneously tried to reroute the ambulance.

“Based on the facts, GW Hospital was not on closure at the time Ambulance 18 initiated contact with them,” said Dr. Fernando Daniels III, medical director for D.C. Fire and EMS.

“There is no documentation in the EMS log that GW had requested closure or diversion six hours prior to the alleged incident.”

The report debunks several accounts found in an internal review conducted by GW Hospital; namely, that the hospital asked to close their emergency room prior to paramedics’ call to request a bed for the patient.

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