Babies Booted Out of DC Hospital Nursery After Health Citations

WASHINGTON — A D.C. government-operated hospital in Southeast has been ordered by the D.C. Department of Health to stop delivering babies and offering newborn care.

United Medical Center, which serves some of the city’s poorest expectant mothers, said it was cited by the health department for deficiencies in screening, clinical assessment and delivery protocols. The health department said United Medical Center has up to 90 days to meet regulations.

Neither the health department nor the hospital would offer any details about the deficiencies uncovered. Only obstetrics and nursery services are affected by the health department order.

“I am incredibly concerned that residents of the East End of the District no longer have the option to have their babies delivered at an East End hospital,” said

D.C. Councilmember Vince Gray, who represents Ward 7, where the hospital is located. Gray is also the chairman of the D.C. Council’s health committee.

Gray has been a critic of United Medical Center, charging that the hospital fails to deliver quality health care available in other parts of the District.

Gray announced Wednesday afternoon he plans to hold a D.C. Council hearing Sept. 22 on “the state of obstetric services” at United Medical Center, saying the suspension “raises questions of health equity and the availability of inpatient birthing options for the approximately 140,000 residents living in Wards 7 and 8.”

The factors leading to the suspension “have not yet been made clear” by the health department of the mayor’s office, Gray said in the statement announcing the hearing.

An emailed statement from United Medical Center said it is “taking immediate action” to address the deficiencies cited by the health department.

The hospital is directing expectant mothers to other area hospitals including Providence Hospital, Medstar Washington Hospital Center and George Washington University Hospital.

The health department has promised to provide the hospital with technical assistance to reestablish its obstetric and nursery services.

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