A $14-million modernization plan known as Project 1980, is rapidly turning Providence Hospital into the major community health center for Northeast Washington.
The plan includes upgrading current services, a new power plant, $3 million in building renovations and the development of new services. The project was initiated by Providence administrator Sister Irene Kraus shortly after she came to the hospital two years ago.
The reasoning behind the moves was simple, explained Kraus. A research consulting firm advised the hospital to either reorganize to meet the needs of their present service population or flee to the suburbs to survive.
"The (hospital) board decided to stay in Northeast," she said, and Project 1980 - the year the full project is expected to be completed - was launched.
Individual task committees, composed of hospital personnel and Northeast residents, were organized to develop immediate and long-range program improvements said Kraus.
This year, the service committee recommended upgrading adult services in the 354-bed hospital by converting the maternity and pediatric units to a regular medical and surgical area because they were being under-utilized. At present, half of the beds in the former pediatrics unit are being used for adults, said Kraus, and all interior renovations are slated for completion by 1979.
In April, the majority of the hospital's clinical service patients were taken over by medical specialists in a new, two-story physicians' building next to the main building. The facility, which is staffed by 50 physicians, is open six days a week and has an inhouse pharmacy open daily until 8 p.m.
Other new programs underway: A service for amputees to fit them for prostheses and to allow follow-up work; and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation exercises program for former heart attack patients; a pulmonary rehabilitation program for people with respiratory problems, and a physical therapy program which operates seven days a week.
Two major services intiated by the medical staff involve a Family Medicine Center, to be located in the Gettysburg senior citizens complex at Fort Lincoln New Town, and a Center For Life program designed to address moral and medicine right-to-life issues.
The Family Medicine Center grew out of a "visiting physicians" program in which Providence doctors visited Fort Lincoln senior citizens weekly to write prescriptions and ask if they needed medical services. Georgetown University Medical School became interested in the program and the hospital entered into an agreement with them to establish a medical training center for physicians studying family medicine. The facility, stated to open next month, will have 22 examining rooms, two full-time, supervisory physicians and a capacity for 10 interns. It will operate six days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and program funding will come from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Costs for medical services within the hospital and the family center will be comparable to those established by most medical offices, said Kraus. However, special financial arrangements can be made for people unable to afford services.
In January, 1977 the hospital establishes a Center for Life " to assist many of the moral judgements people have to make nowadays," and to encourage people to develop a respect for life.
Pregnancy counselling is a major focus of the program, said center director Christine Mooney. The counseling program was devised. She said, for women who need financial aid for prenatal and delivery services. Many of the hospital's referrals come from the Prince George's County Health Department because "there is no place in Prince George's County where women can deliver for under $1,000," said Mooney "Since the program began, its the first time in 10 years our maternity census has gone up and not down."
Natural Family Planning was another center service initiated with aid from Howard University, said Mooney. Through this program couples are instructed in the "rhythm method" of contraception. Since the program began in August, forty people have undergone training, he said.
Future Center for Life activities include a parenting seminar - with Jesse Jackson possibly scheduled as the key speaker; a seminar for ministers and clergy to discuss life-and-death issues, and a senior citizens self-help bureau.
Providence Hospital boasts a tradition of being the oldest continuing health service agency in washington.Established in 1861 by the Daughters of Charity, its charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.