Declaring that the new facilities will "provide a basis for grater future service to the community," Thomas R. Harrison, president of the board of directors of Capitol Hill Hospital, last week welcomed visitors to the dedication of the hospital's new $17-million wing.
The dediction, held under a tent outside the hospital at 700 Constitution Ave. NE, featured speeches by Del. Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.) Mayor Walter E. Washington, City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker, and Council member Nadine Winter.
The eight-story addition was begun two years ago. it contains 172 patient beds, a surgical suite with five operating rooms, intensive and coronary care units and various support activities. The new wing is part of a phased development program. The first part of the program - the enlargement and renovation of the emergency room and outpatient and radiology departments - was completed in 1975 at a cost of approximately $6 million, according to Noah Goodridge, the hospital's director of development. The hospital received $22.3 million in grants and loans from the federal government for the development program, Goodridge said, and raised another $750,000 from foundations, businesses and labor unions.
Capitol Hill Hospital, known as Rogers Memorial Hospital until last year initially received $17.5 million of the total of $80.5 million given to local hospitals under the District of Columbia Medical Facilities Act of 1968, according to William Beldon, a budget official of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In 1975, the hospital tried to get an additional $8 million from Congress.The amount was whittled down to to $4 million by a House-Senate conference committee and became part of a $12 billion supplemental appropriations bill. The bill passed, and President Ford signed it in June 1976.
Two months later, after the hospital appropriation was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, Ford sent Congress a deferral proposal - asking that the $4 million be held and dispensed by an advisory panel that would grant funds for hospital construction on a nationwide, competitive basis.
The Senate, however, passed a resolution denying Ford's request for a deferral, and the money was released in September 1976.
In 1967, according to C. David Alter, director of community relations, the hospital commissioned a study that recommended the hospital stay in the area. But it also said that as the neighborhood became more affluent, the hospital should improve its facilities.
The initial expansion program entailed demolition of some row houses, a move that aroused some community opposition. To promote better relations with community, according to Alter, the hospital signed a memorandum with the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society in 1972. The memorandum set boundries beyond which the hospital would not expand.
The hospital has appointed several community residents to its board of directors, including Grace Monaco, of 123 C St. SE.
"I'm very excited about the hospital," said Monaco. "It's a good family hospital that can provide basic medical care just as well as any other hospital. What makes it special is the quality of community involvement."
Monaco said that there were volunteer programs to check on newly discharged patients and live-alones in the community, to train baby sitters in basic first aid, and to orient elementary school children to hospital procedures.
A few obstacles still hinder complete community acceptance of the hospital, according to Monaco, but the new facilities should help overcome them. For example, according to Monaco, a lot of alcoholics and shooting victims are admitted to the hospital from the emergency room.
"People going into a hospital for elective surgery might not want to room with these people. but the semi-private rooms in the new wing can be divided by a partition for complete privacy," said Monaco.
Another problem, she said, is that many welfare and indigent patients are admitted to the hospital through the emergency room and cause a financial drain.
"If we can get enough paying patients to offset the non-paying ones, we should be able to break even," said Monaco.
Getting doctors to send their patients to Capitol Hill Hospital is crucial to the hospital's success, according to Frances Frieder, director of public relations.
"Part of the problem is that there is a real shortage of doctors in the area, but that is changing. More doctors are setting up practice on the Hill and we're arranging tours of the facilities for these and other doctors," said Frieder.
"We have very modern equipment here," she continued. "We want to show doctors - and the community - that this is a first-rate hospital."