Mayor Marion Barry joined guests, staff members and officials at the Columbia Hospital for Women last week to kick off a $7.5-million building program that will add two new wings to the hospital within two years.
Barry, who praised the hospital's services, also used the occasion to express his displeasure with medical services provided through the D.C. Department of Human Resources. By Oct. 1, Barry said, he hopes to create a new medical and mental health administration by moving these services outside DHR's jurisdiction.
After his speech, Barry joined hospital officials in the groundbreaking ritual.
Throughout the 30-minute ceremony, about 50 persons shivered good naturedly under a bright, yellow-and-white striped canopy erected where the new West Wing will be.Enthusiastic hospital officials celebrated the groundbreaking not only as the start of an expansion program but as the beginning of a dream, "The Columbia Hospital for Women and National Medical Center."
The two additions, which will allow the hospital to expand nursery services and provide critically needed storage space, represent the first major expansion at the facility since 1959, officials said. To point out some of the storage problems, Dr. Melchior F.R. Savarese, chief of the medical staff; told the audience that the hospital is using a trailer to store excess linen.
During more than a century of operation, the Columbia Hospital for Women has specialized in the car of women and infants, gaining international recognition in the fields of obstetrics, gynecology and neonatology.
"This new wing will improve and expand our capabilities to fulfill the duties that our speciality demands," Savarese said.
The two wings will be on the hospital grounds at 2425 L St. NW. The East Wing, a 41,000-square-foot, three-story building to be constructed on the 24th Street side, will include an intensive care nursery, pharmacy, laboratory, ambulatory care center and surgery, labor and delivery rooms.
The one-story West Wing, to be built along 25th Street, will provide 5,100 square feet of space for linen storage, purchasing, maintenance supplies and other support services. Future plans provide for the renovation of 32,000 square feet of present hospital facilities, according to information on the project.
Of the $7.5 million needed for construction, the hospital has raised $3 million, primarily through an investment and building fund. Hospital officcials said they hope to raise the remaining $2 million through contributions and loans.
"For this project we have saved, borrowed and begged," John A. Washington, president of the hospital board of directors, told the laughing audience. Glancing at Barry he added, "And we will continue to beg." CAPTION: Picture, Swinging shovels at a groundbreaking at Columbia Hospital for Women were, from left, Dr. Melchior Savarese, chief of the medical staff; Mayor Marion Barry, and John Washington, president of the hospital board. By Craig Herndon-The Washington Post