The District will auction off the United Medical Center property in Southeast Washington next month unless an agreement can be reached with the current owner, Specialty Hospitals of America, over how best to salvage the troubled facility.
Attorney General Peter Nickles filed a foreclosure notice last week stating that the auction would be held July 9 on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building. Nickles has accused Specialty of defaulting on its lease by failing to pay its bills on time.
The city is in talks with attorneys for Specialty to try to reach an agreement, but Nickles said the foreclosure notice was needed to set "an end date" for the talks. If an agreement is not reached, Nickles said, the city will seize the 17-acre United Medical Center property at the auction and operate it as a city-run hospital until a new owner can be found.
In 2007, a deal put together by D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) prevented the closure of the former Greater Southeast Community Hospital, the only hospital in that part of the city east of the Anacostia River. The arrangement called for Specialty, a for-profit company, and the city to own the hospital jointly, and for the hospital to be managed by its own board of directors.
The company has said that the hospital's financial meltdown is due in part to the city's refusal to fully reimburse the facility for patient care.
-- Tim Craig