United Medical Center in Southeast Washington. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Two more high-ranking former employees of the District’s only public hospital stepped forward Monday to criticize the firm running the facility, even as the company’s owner fought back on the eve of a high-stakes D.C. Council vote on whether it should continue to manage United Medical Center.

Pamela Lee, the hospital’s former chief operating officer, and Stanley Pierre, its former quality director, said the consulting firm, Veritas of Washington, had taken steps to remove critical safeguards for patients — particularly by understaffing the department that ensures quality of care and compliance with state and federal laws.

Their assertions echo those made in public testimony before a D.C. Council committee Friday by another former UMC quality director, Maria Costino, and by Julian Craig, the hospital’s current chief medical officer.

The D.C. Council is set to vote Tuesday on whether to cancel the Veritas contract after a string of high-profile lapses in medical care at UMC, which is owned by the District and serves some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods in Southeast Washington. Most members of the 13-member council said Monday that they were still undecided.

“It is really a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation,” said council member Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large). He said he worried quality of care could further suffer in the tumult accompanying another turnover in hospital leadership if the Veritas contract is canceled but has nevertheless decided to vote against extending the contract because of his concerns about patient safety under the management.

“To approve this contract could be seen by residents as approving the damning information we’ve seen in the newspapers,” he said.

In August, regulators closed the UMC obstetrics ward without disclosing why. The Washington Post later reported the closure came after dangerous medical errors involving pregnant women and newborns. Last week, the newspaper reported on the case of Warren Webb, a UMC nursing-home resident who died of a heart attack after crying out for help and being left on the floor by his nurse.

In his testimony Friday, Craig said Veritas’s tenure “has included both mismanagement and malfeasance that have adversely affected patient safety and quality of care.”

In a letter to hospital board chair LaRuby May on Sunday, Veritas owner Chrystie Boucrée pushed back against Craig’s allegations, calling them “egregious” and part of a “remarkably self-serving and false narrative.”

Boucrée’s husband, Corbett Price, is a longtime health-care executive who, along with his relatives and companies, made more than $35,000 in political contributions to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) in 2014. Boucrée’s cousin, David Boucrée, is UMC’s interim chief executive despite never having worked in a hospital before the Veritas contract.

Among other things, Chrystie Boucrée disputed Craig’s claim that Veritas employee Luis Hernandez had encouraged doctors to admit patients to the hospital who did not need treatment to drive up revenue, a tactic Craig said put the hospital “at serious federal regulatory and financial risk” and put “the medical staff’s careers and medical licenses in jeopardy.”

Boucrée said the UMC board had “hired an independent legal team” to investigate those claims, adding, “While Veritas has not seen the report of the results of this investigation, Mr. Hernandez was informed by the hospital’s counsel in June 2017 that the findings indicated no wrongdoing on his part.”

Boucrée also said Craig’s assertion that Veritas had cut safety oversight positions, including Pierre’s quality director job, was “false” and that those cuts were made by the hospital’s former chief executive, whose tenure predated Veritas.

In a written statement to The Washington Post, Pierre said the Veritas consultants had been responsible for the elimination of his position during layoffs at the hospital in May 2016. After his job was targeted, Pierre said, the hospital’s former chief executive made “an 11th-hour request” to Veritas “asking them to reconsider eliminating the director of quality position and the answer came back negative.”

Pierre, now assistant director of population health at Ozarks Medical Center in Missouri, said in an interview that he found it deeply troubling that the hospital did not hire a new quality director — an official independent of the doctors and nursing staff to assess patient care — after that until December 2016, when Costino came on board.

Veritas spokeswoman Jennifer Devlin said Veritas “had been in the hospital for two and a half weeks” in May 2016 and was not making personnel decisions. She said between July and December 2016 a consultant served as interim quality director.

Lee, the hospital’s former COO, said in a signed declaration submitted to the council by Craig’s attorneys that “after Veritas became UMC’s operator, the quality department was taken apart in a number of ways,” including the removal of key personnel such as Pierre.

“To dismantle the quality and patient safety departments, as what was done at United Medical Center by Veritas was to commit organizational suicide,” she wrote in her declaration, which was attached to a second letter Craig sent to the council Monday rebutting the Veritas response to his allegations.

In response to questions about Lee’s declaration, Devlin sent The Post a statement from Wayne Turnage, director of the D.C. Department of Healthcare Finance, saying Lee’s “recollection is inaccurate.” Turnage, who confirmed over the phone that he made the statement, said the layoffs Lee referred to were “initiated prior to Veritas coming on.”