REPORT: Howard University Hospital Shows Symptoms of a Severe Crisis

When Howard University Hospital opened its doors as Freedmen’s in Northwest D.C. in 1862, it stood out for the medical care it offered freed slaves and became an incubator for some of the country’s brightest African American physicians.

But over the past decade, the once-grand hospital that was the go-to place for the city’s middle-class black patients has been beset by financial troubles, empty beds and an exodus of respected physicians and administrators, many of whom said they are fed up with the way it is run.

Read more from The Washington Post here.

BELOW IS A RESPONSE TO THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE BY HOWARD UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL CEO, JIM DIEGEL

March 27, 2017

Dear Howard University Hospital caregivers and colleagues:

Howard University Hospital is a healthy patient-centered institution.

Many of you may have read yesterday’s article in The Washington Post that attempts to discredit the phenomenal work we do every day serving patients. I am troubled by what was written, specifically the accusations of gaps in care and patient safety. The article is driven by dated information and focuses on cases more than a decade old. It completely ignores present day practices we employ to deliver quality evidence-based patient-centered care. We all know that Howard University Hospital is a much better hospital than the one portrayed in the article.

In October 2014, based on a deliberate plan set forth by the University’s health science committee, Paladin was contracted to assist with a turnaround of the hospital. The agreement established a powerful working relationship between Howard and Paladin. Together, we share a strong commitment to collaboration, teamwork, and a mission that ensures every patient receives high quality services at all times. The partnership, together with the dedication, support, and execution of our talented staff of nurses, all caregivers, physicians and administrative personnel, has been remarkably successful, exceeding virtually every goal set forth when the relationship was established. The metrics, which I share below, bear this out:

• Emergency department length of stay has fallen by more than 20%, time to triage has fallen by 78%, and patient satisfaction has improved dramatically;
• Significant quality improvements have been realized in virtually all appropriate care measures, with perfect scores in many, and near-perfect scores in the vast majority;
• Costs per adjusted patient day have fallen, and we are closing in on many best practices established by industry benchmarks;
• Patient satisfaction scores related to communication with nurses, physicians, and recommendation of hospital to others have improved significantly in recent months;
• Financial performance has vastly improved, and the hospital is now profitable and stable.
• One of ninety hospitals in the country certified by The Joint Commission in Disease Specific Diabetes care.
Our unwavering commitment to serve high-risk, underserved, and vulnerable patient populations is at the center of everything we do. This commitment not only drives our activities within the hospital and at our clinics, but across the community through medical presentations, free health screenings, educational workshops, and health fairs. Not a single week goes by without HUH personnel making these important contributions.

Howard University Hospital is a healthier institution than it was a decade ago. Our hospital maintains an unimpeachable reputation throughout the world for its commitment and encouragement of community health. Most importantly, we are a patient-centered compassionate institution that will not waver from its mission.

Please join me as we proudly carry forward our mission and focus on the future. Our patients, their families, and the many communities we serve are at the heart of everything we do.

Be well.
Jim Diegel, CEO

Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.

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