Califano Orders Quick Upgrading Of St. Elizabeth's

By Alice Bonner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 20, 1977; 12:00 AM

Joseph A. Califano Jr., Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, has ordered quick action to upgrade St. Elizabeths Hospital and has made it his "personal goal" to transfer the improved facility to the District of Columbia government, it was reported yesterday.

Califano made the commitment to House District Committee Chairman Charles C. Diggs Jr. in an Aug. 8 letter, which was released yesterday along with an HEW report specifying goals and timetables for improving services at the hospital.

As priorities, Califano listed improved quality of patient care and regaining the accreditation that St. Elizabeths lost last year - conditions he said are "wholly" within HEW's jurisdiction.

Califano's vow was made public one week after The Washington Post reported findings of poor management, inadequate between District officials and federal administrators at St. Elizabeths. The findings developed out of an investigation by the General Accounting Office.

Diggs issued a statement yesterday praising the HEW efforts as the beginning of "finally . . . resolving what has become a national disgrace."

Eighty-five per cent of the patients in St. Elizabeths - the only federally operated mental hospital in the country - are District residents.

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