Charlene Drew Jarvis, a Democratic candidate for mayor of the District, called last night for a consolidation of the city's fragmented health delivery services into a separate Department of Health. She also told a group of emergency medical professionals that she would strip the fire department of the city's troubled ambulance service.
Speaking before a meeting of the District chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Jarvis, Ward 4 City Council member, was joined in her criticism of the city's emergency services by other mayoral candidates who attended, but not by the mayor or by Patricia Roberts Harris, neither of whom showed up.
Their absence was noted with some annoyance by the meeting's chairman, Dr. Douglas White, assistant administrator of the emergency department at Georgetown University Medical Center, who said the meeting was held on a Friday night because "it was the only night the mayor could come." He told the 60 or so physicians, paramedics and other emergency personnel, that Barry's and Harris' absence was "a palpable disappointment."
The other candidates greeted their absence with some glee, however, turning the latter part of the meeting into a generalized denunciation of the Barry administration. Jarvis noted that she was not surprised by either absence. "Health does not have a high priority in this administration," she said, and recalled that during her unsuccessful fight in 1980 to save the Upshur Street Clinic, Harris, then secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told Jarvis she "didn't want to get involved."
Jarvis, who called for paramedic training programs at the University of the District of Columbia, and the other mayoral candidateswere joined by City Council candidate Mark Plotkin, who called the lack of advanced medic units in Ward 3 "a scandal."
The other candidates attending the forum were Republicans E. Brooke Lee Jr. and James Champagne and Democrats John Ray (At-Large) and Dr. Morris Harper.