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Officials try to save Greater SE Hospital

(Published October 4, 1999)

Pressed by the imminent bankruptcy-forced closure of Greater Southeast Community Hospital, D.C. officials were scrambling at press time to come up with a plan to preserve as many medical services as possible for residents of one of the city’s most medically under-served areas.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced plans to convene a meeting Oct. 4 at which he was to be joined by his recently appointed health care commission and key members of the city council and financial control board.

Looming over them was an Oct. 5 deadline imposed Sept. 30 by federal bankruptcy court Judge S. Martin Teel Jr. to devise a plan to infuse much-needed cash into the 286-bed hospital’s operations and put it on a steady course toward financial turnaround.

Last May, when officials of Greater Southeast Healthcare System filed for Chapter 11 protection from the hospital’s creditors, Mayor Williams committed $8.5 million in city funds to help stabilize the hospital while it sought to restructure. City officials spent long hours behind closed doors in the days prior to the Sept. 30 court hearing, trying to find a way to persuade Greater Southeast’s creditors to remain patient in their wait to be paid more than $70 million in debts.

The mayor’s staff has attempted unsuccessfully during the past six months to get the city’s three financially ailing "safety net" hospitals that provide the bulk of services for the District’s poorest residents – Greater Southeast, Howard University and publicly owned D.C. General Hospital – to work together on a plan that would financially strengthen all three.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator