The corporation that owns the financially troubled Capitol Hill Hospital said yesterday that it may be forced to close the 102-year-old facility because of continuing losses, primarily from uncompensated patient care.
John L. Green, an executive vice president for the Medlantic Health Care Group, said Capitol Hill Hospital lost $4 million in fiscal 1990 and could lose as much as $6 million during the current fiscal year, which began July 1.
Closing the hospital is one of several options being considered, Green said. The others include maintaining the hospital as it is, adding new services that could generate more money, and using the building to provide long-term-care, he said.
The executive said the Medlantic board, which will meet this weekend for an annual retreat, will examine the future of Capitol Hill Hospital as part of a discussion of the "strategic direction" for all Medlantic facilities, including Washington Hospital Center, the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Northwest Washington and several smaller area health facilities.
"What is getting the notoriety here is the potential for change in the mission for Capitol Hill Hospital," Green said. "But what we are focusing on is what is best for this community."
Capitol Hill Hospital, at 700 Constitution Ave. NE, is one of the city's smallest. Its 133 acute care beds and 30 skilled nursing beds provide care for a high number of nonpaying, uninsured patients, many of them brought by ambulance to the emergency room.
The hospital is one of many caught between rising patient-care costs and limited reimbursements from government, insurance carriers and patients.
Both Howard University Hospital and George Washington University Hospital cut their work forces this summer in an effort to reduce costs.
Workers at Capitol Hill Hospital already are being urged to look for work in the event that cutbacks are instituted or the facility closes, according to several hospital workers.
Two workers said about 100 employees crowded into a hospital meeting room yesterday for the latest word on what will happen to them. During the meeting, a hospital administrator said Medlantic was weighing its options, including turning it into a long-term care facility or closing it, according to one worker who was at the meeting and who asked not to be identified.
Robert B. Moore, president of Local 1199E-DC of the Service Employees International Union, said about 150 hospital workers will hold a rally this afternoon at the District Building to demand action on the city's indigent-care crisis.
"Capitol Hill Hospital is immediately at risk of closure," the local said in a written release about the demonstration. "Its demise would greatly increase the pressure on D.C. General Hospital, which is already seriously overburdened."