By Deborah Bailey,
Special to the AFRO

Closing the gap in healthcare services in Southeast, D.C. is in reach at last. A long-awaited groundbreaking for a new hospital on the grounds of St. Elizabeths has finally come.  

Mayor Muriel Bowser, joined members of the D.C. Council, United Health, George Washington and Children’s National Hospital leadership, and the great-great-great- grandson of Frederick Douglass, to break ground on the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, GW Health, scheduled to open in 2024.

“This is the start of a new chapter for health care in Washington, D.C., especially for our neighborhoods East of the River,” Bowser said.

Bowser was jubilant as she stood on the grounds of the St. Elizabeths East campus this week introducing the primary partners who will run the new Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center.  George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates and the George Washington School of Medicine will provide medical care and research capabilities, along with Children’s National Hospital, who will specifically provide children’s services.

“Let’s be clear. This is not just a transition from our older hospital. This is a fresh start for the community. I am eager to get started and break ground on the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center – GW Health,” Bowser said.

Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray (D- Ward 7) then greeted an appreciative audience, summarizing the current inequities in District healthcare with a quote from Dr. ML King.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane,” Gray stated.  

“This quotation by Dr. King is what has driven me since my tenure as Mayor and my return to the Council to focus on creating an integrated and comprehensive health care system for District residents but most importantly for Ward 7 and 8 residents who currently lack equitable access to quality health care services,” Gray continued.

“Health equity and access to care are fundamental human rights,” said Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D), following Gray’s theme of justice for East of the River residents.  

“The new full-service hospital East of the Anacostia brings us a step closer to providing equitable health care access to all Washingtonians, especially residents in Wards 7 and 8.” White added.

Group Vice President of the Washington, DC Region for UHS and Chief Executive Officer of GW Hospital Kimberly Russo will serve as lead officer for the new Cedar Hill Hospital project. Russo said the addition of comprehensive medical services East of the River completes a “system of care” approach to medical services across D.C.

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D) speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, GW Health, on the grounds of St Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast, D.C. (Photo by Deborah Bailey)

“We are thrilled to be embarking on the development of these vital health services East of the Anacostia River so that we can better serve all residents across the District of Columbia,” Russo said.

Cedar Hill, the name for the new hospital, is the final home of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. Kenneth Morris, great, great, great grandson of Douglass felt the spirit of the women in his family was an appropriate metaphor for services that will be available to residents in wards 7 and 8 once the new hospital opens.  

“It was a special place to Anna in particular and it’s beautiful to know that a place of such family comfort and meaning will be associated with a place to provide much needed care and comfort to Washingtonians in this important part of the city,” Morris said.

When completed in 2024, the 350,000 square foot facility will offer:

• Newborn delivery with a neonatal intensive care unit operated by Children’s National neonatology program ranked first in the nation.  

• Academic Medicine and Pediatric Care from physicians and graduate medical students from the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates and George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Children’s National Hospital and community physicians.

• Women’s Health Services including Gynecology, Maternal, Breast Care, Pelvic Floor Care, Fibroid and Menstrual Disorders, Gynecologic Oncology, Neonatal Intensive Care and High Risk Pregnancy-Maternal Fetal Medicine.

• Adult and Children Emergency Departments treating an estimated 40,000 emergency patients within the first year.

• A certified Level 3 Trauma Center allowing in-community treatment of severe accidents, blunt and penetrating trauma.

• A 16-bed Behavioral and Mental Health unit.

• Operating Rooms supporting scheduled and emergency procedures.

• Full range of Specialty Care including Orthopedic, Liver, Heart, Kidney, Brain, Bones and Joint Care.

• Outpatient services including Physical Therapy, Dialysis and Chemotherapy infusion. Thirty-six physician exam rooms.  More than 9,000 patients are expected to receive outpatient services in the hospital’s first year.  

• Solar power: Garage solar panels will create energy assistance to more than 200 near-by households.

• A 550-member professional staff

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