- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The District is proposing to pay half the construction costs of a new hospital in Southeast to be owned and operated by Howard University.

The 230-bed National Capital Medical Center would be built on the site of the former D.C. General Hospital, Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday. It would include a top-level trauma center and an office building for doctors and the university.

Mr. Williams closed D.C. General in 2001 despite opposition from the D.C. Council, other hospitals and many residents. A network of private community clinics replaced the public hospital.

Mr. Williams said he has no apologies.

“I think we did what we had to do,” the mayor said. “We’re building on what we’ve done ” I don’t see this as a reversal.”

Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert said the new hospital would not interfere with its current medical center and that the university is prepared to operate a second large hospital.

Preliminary plans call for the District to pick up half the $400 million cost. The city also would pay all infrastructure costs as part of the larger development of the area known as Reservation 13.

The university would operate the hospital without subsidies from the city. Outside consultants have completed several feasibility studies on the project, but Mr. Swygert said there was still work to complete before an agreement is final.

“It’s a very complex, very difficult proposition, which is why very few new hospitals are ever built,” Mr. Swygert said.

Officials were adamant that the high-tech facility would serve the city and entire region ” not just the nearby low-income residents. Mr. Williams called on Prince George’s County and Maryland officials, as well as the struggling Greater Southeast Community Hospital, to get involved.

“It’s not a poor people’s hospital with all the negative connotations that that carries,” Mr. Swygert said. “This will be new from the ground up, incorporating the most important and most modern technology.”

He said the whole community would have access, including many who are economically disadvantaged.

Council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, said through a spokeswoman that he would rather see a public hospital managed by public employees.

“Until he finds out the definitive plans for building at the present D.C. General site, he’s opposed to building on the site,” said Linda Greene, Mr. Barry’s chief of staff.

Revenue from the redevelopment of the city’s old convention center site would provide about half the city’s share of hospital funding, City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said. The remaining funds would come from other city sources.

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