Most of the city's public health clinics have major enviromental deficiencies, including inadequate plumbing, substandard to a D.C. Enviromental Health Adminstration report released yesterday.
Of the 20 Human Resources Department clinics inspected last October and November, 18 had major short-comings, the Survey found. These conditions create a danger of transmitting disease, and cause uncomfortable and unsafe patient surroundings and a depressing work atmosphere for clinic personnel, the report said.
The survey was conducted to examine compliance with District and federal standards in nine major categories. Only one facility, the Harvard Towers clinic at 1845 Harvard St. NW, had no major shortcomings, the report said.
Dr. William J. Washington, DHR's health and hospitals administrator, said he had not seen the report yesterday and could not comment on its findings.
DHR operates 23 clinic locations, eight of them comprehensive health centers and 15 providing part time specialized services in maternity care, geriatries and other areas. Washington said the clinics receive about 646,000 patient visits a year.
The survey noted that most of the clinics are in renovated schools, garages or apartments that do not meet many minimum standards, apparently for economic reasons.
"However, there is no excuse for the lack of certain basic requirements which contribute to the maintenance of a sanitary physical enviroment and the comfort and safety of patients and the clinic personnel," the survey said.
Plumbing problems were found in all of the clinics. Installing hand basins in treatment and examination rooms and other corrective measures is "of vital importance" to prevent disease spread, the report said.
Lighting was found to be inadequate because some fixtures were burned out and others were dirty or discolored in 17 clinics. The deficiencies could hamper clerical functions or cause "critical signs of illness or disease" to missed in examinations, the survey noted.
Basic sanitation and housekeeping were found lacking in 12 clinics, which had dirty floors, damaged or water stained walls, trash-filled basements and other hazards to safetly.
Nine clinics lacked proper heating and ventilation in toilets, examining rooms and dark rooms where chemicals used to develop X-rays pose a potential hazard, the report said.
One of the clinics had no fire extinguishers, and another failed to inspect its fire equipment regularly,the inspectors said. Wheel chair ramps for all the geriatric clinics were recomended, as well as removal of all safety hazards where "sick, crippled (patients and) pregnant women and children" come for medical attention.
Only two of the clinics had evidence of rat or insect infestation, but several others that distribute supplemental fooods to DHR clients did not have proper storage facilities to prevent pests.
While soe of the deficiencies noted do not immediately affect health services, they should be corrected for "esthetic and public relations" reasons the survey said.
Enviromental health administrator Bailus Walker said the report was prepared to help DHR "order its priorities and resolve the problems."