Vincent Gray appears on track to finally get funding for a new hospital


It appears D.C. Councilman Vincent Gray is close to finally landing his long-sought funding for a new hospital to replace United Medical Center.

When the D.C. Council passed a fiscal year 2018 budget in its first vote May 30— including a six-year capital spending plan — it allocated $300 million toward the proposed creation of an East End Medical Center, urgent care center and ambulatory facility on the St. Elizabeths East campus.

It was a bit of a coup for the former mayor after the council previously spurned his $300 million proposal for a new hospital on that site three years ago.

“I went to work with my colleagues and today, the council approved many of my priorities. We are moving this budget in the right direction,” Gray, D-Ward 7, said in a statement.

The $300 million included in the latest spending plan includes $136 million identified by Gray to be taken from $180 million Bowser proposed in her capital budget for improvements to District-owned UMC between fiscal years 2018 and 2023. It also includes $100 million identified by Councilwoman Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, in the Committee on Transportation and Environment’s budget that will become available in fiscal year 2023. And the council allocated $64 million toward the project cumulatively in 2022 and 2023.

The budget still needs to pass a final council vote on June 13 before it is sent to Bowser for final approval. And Bowser doesn’t appear ready to concede ownership of plans for a new hospital east of the Anacostia River. A year ago, she revived the plan to create a replacement hospital for UMC.

In addition to hiring a hospital operator to manage UMC’s day-to-day operations and conducting layoffs to stabilize the hospital’s financial situation, the Bowser administration hired a contractor to conduct a study to determine the best location for a new hospital, said Bowser spokeswoman LaToya Foster. The contractor will make a final recommendation this summer.

The District also recently hired Huron Consulting, which was UMC’s previous turnaround operator, to assess what lines of service would make the most sense in a new hospital and determine the appropriate size and design for the facility.

“All along we’ve been talking to potential partners and understanding what deal structure will attract the best partner to serve residents,” Foster said in an email. “Mayor Bowser isn’t just promising a new hospital. She is taking the steps necessary to build the hospital that residents deserve.”

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