DC orders United Medical Center to suspend baby deliveries, prenatal care

DC orders United Medical Center to suspend baby deliveries, prenatal care (Jay Korff/ABC7)

The Department of Health in Washington, D.C., has ordered a hospital to stop delivering babies and offering prenatal care for the next 90 days.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that district officials declined to say what prompted the suspension at United Medical Center. But the hospital is implementing a plan to improve those services.

Health department spokesman Tom Lalley said the agency was limited in what it could say about licensing decisions. A spokesman for United Medical Center did not respond to an e-mail and phone call seeking more information.

Pregnant women who came to the hospital for prenatal care or who planned on giving birth in the near future will now have to make other arrangements to the dismay of longtime health care advocate Ambrose Lane Jr.

“I was actually shocked. The first question that came to my mind is where are the women going to go?,” says Lane Jr.

A recent Department of Health report suggests other hospitals in the city can accommodate expecting mothers.

The long-troubled public hospital in Southeast Washington serves some of the city's poorest residents.

One high ranking city official told ABC7 News Tuesday that UMC has "woefully inadequate facilities" and "grossly under serves the community."

In a statement released Tuesday, Ward 7 councilmember Vince Gray said the following:

"I am incredibly concerned that residents on the East End of the District no longer have the option to have their babies delivered at an East End hospital. It is far past time to finally bring health equity to the East End of the City. An over half-century old hospital simply cannot provide the quality and scope of health care services that residents enjoy in other areas of the city. UMC needs to be replaced with a new state-of-the-art community hospital as soon as possible.”

Gray said that when he was mayor in 2014, he and the DC Council funded a new hospital on the St. Elizabeth's campus and that new East End Medical Center would have opened in 2019. But funds were later cut by the council, he said. He urged the council to provide necessary funds in the next budget cycle or in supplemental budgets to get a new East End hospital back on track.

“This presents yet another problem with the inequity of resources we are getting on this side of town," Councilmember Trayon White said Tuesday evening. "This reinforces the need for a new hospital that works for our residents. “

Other services at the hospital remain available.

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