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Community proposes SE hospital advisers

(Published November 29, 1999)


Staff Writer

Members of a community coalition formed to help prevent Greater Southeast Community Hospital from closing are calling for a citizen advisory board to work with Doctors Community Healthcare Corp. as it takes over the hospital.

"The hospital is not going to survive unless it has community support," said Marc Weiss, leader of Health Care Now-The Greater Southeast Community Coalition. "If they really want to maximize their revenue in general, as well as their general popularity, they need to make the steps" to gain community support, he said.

Weiss said he does not know if the board will be created before Dec. 31, when the sale of the hospital is expected to be completed. But coalition members said the hospitalís management appears receptive to the proposal.

"Threats of closure taught the hospital a lesson about working closely with the community," he said.

Coalition member Eugene DeWitt Kinlow called for forming the advisory board immediately.

"Itís important that whoever comes in needs to have a relationship with the community," Kinlow said.

Forming the advisory board, he said, would be an opportunity for Doctors Community to show it cares about community input. He added that coalition and Doctors Community would have to meet to decide upon the boardís composition, responsibilities and size.

The Rev. John Coursey, vice chairman of Greater Southeastís board of directors, welcomed the idea of a citizen advisory board.

"I think it helps the people who live in the community to be close to developments in the hospital," Coursey said. "I think it helps residents who care about the major health problems of the community.

"When more of the community is involved in one of its institutions that provides a level of influence that you canít get any other way," he said. "The community has a voice."

Coursey said there is "no question" that the board could have been an asset in helping Greater Southeastís current management run the hospital, and that he has not seen enough citizen advisory boards in the administration of health care.

Doctors Community Healthcare Corp. is an Arizona-based chain that also owns Hadley Memorial Hospital, the only other D.C. hospital located east of the Anacostia River, as well as hospitals in Chicago and California.

A federal bankruptcy judge agreed Nov. 13 to let the group purchase Greater Southeast for approximately $21 million. Greater Southeast is the largest employer in Ward 8 and the only comprehensive health care provider east of the Anacostia River.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator