Yesterday's Editorial "D-Day for Greater Southeast" should have stated that $8.5 million represents the total amount of aid extended to the hospital by the district. (Published 10/06/1999)

WERE IT SIMPLY a question of the financial ability of Doctors Community Healthcare Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., to keep the ailing Greater Southeast Community Hospital afloat, the issue might be viewed as strictly a business matter between two private entities. But the destiny of the 286-bed Southeast, D.C., facility has public consequences, especially for those living east of the Anacostia River. Therefore, the hospital's response to the $24 million bailout offer from the Arizona firm has understandably attracted the attention of city leaders.

The District has a real stake in the fate of Greater Southeast. For starters, the District government is now one of the hospital's major creditors, as the result of an $8.5 million loan extended last spring to keep the struggling facility going. In addition, the city has advanced $2.5 million in Medicaid funds, more than $3 million in Community Development Block grant funds and a $3 million loan.

Despite those efforts, the hospital remains in deep trouble. With several creditors now demanding asset liquidation of the heavily indebted and cash-poor hospital, and with a federal bankruptcy judge ready to rule, it is running out of time, money and options.

Last Saturday the city's Health Care Systems Development Commission advised Mayor Williams against committing additional city funds to the hospital. The mayor, council members Linda Cropp and Sandy Allen and key financial control board members have agreed. In their collective view, Greater Southeast, which has serious management problems, has a viable offer from a private concern and should not get a public bailout.

In the event the hospital is closed, the city says it will ensure that Greater Southeast's patients and records will be transferred to other facilities, that expanded transportation will be provided to help residents travel to other providers, and that job placement and counseling will be given to those of the hospital's 1,100 employees who live in the city. We hope those pledges are met. Whatever is decided by the hospital's board, creditors, the court or city leaders, medically needy residents above all else should not be left in the lurch.