The D.C. government plans to add four doctors to the staff of the city's detoxification center in Southeast Washington in response to complaints that some alcoholics were turned away because physicians were not on duty to admit them.
Dr. Ernest Hardaway, the city's commissioner of public health, said yesterday that he expects the new doctors to join the seven already employed by the center within a week or two.
"I have been amazed at the interest this case has provoked," Hardaway said. "I believe some of the criticism was justified."
The detoxification center, located on the grounds of D.C. General Hospital, is required by law to remain open at all times. Public health authorities require a doctor be present to admit and release patients, but physicians have not always been on duty around the clock.
The staffing problem at the center drew criticism from the Washington Area Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which has closely monitored the facility. The problem also discouraged some police officers from picking up drunks and taking them to the center, according to police officials.
Hardaway said yesterday that he hopes to eliminate the problem by hiring the new doctors and issuing an order that a doctor on duty at the center cannot leave his post until his replacement shows up.