When it opens within the next few years, a newly revitalized hospital on the campus of Howard University will not only continue to serve District residents but serve as a state-of-the-art training ground for hundreds of African American medical personnel.
In his State of the University address on Thursday, Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick described the new hospital as part of a larger vision to upgrade major university buildings so that students and faculty members in closely related academic programs can better collaborate.
The new building, Frederick said, would build upon Howard’s legacy as a major pipeline for African American doctors.
“When you look at what happened in the pandemic, it’s extremely important,” Frederick said. “We train and graduate more African Americans in medicine than any other institution. We received $100 million from Congress to support the building of this hospital. It will be in the middle of the complex hosting the [College of Nursing and Allied] Health Sciences and STEM. It’s an academic health center and not just a hospital.”
This project comes amid tenuous contract negotiations between Adventist Healthcare/Howard and nurses who are represented by the DC Nurses Association. It has also taken place as construction continues on a new hospital located on the St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast. That project, at one point in time, incited debate about the diversion of Howard medical students from the hospital.
When completed, the 600,000-square-foot facility will include a 225-bed teaching hospital, Level 1 on-campus trauma center, medical office building, and cancer center facility. It counts as part of the university’s Central Campus Master Plan, which also includes the construction of three multidisciplinary academic buildings and other upgrades. These on-campus construction projects will cost a total of $785 million.
In addition to the infusion of congressional funds, the Howard hospital revitalization project will benefit from a $225 million, 20-year tax abatement on commercial development sites owned by the university, $25 million in infrastructure investments, and more than $26 million in programmatic support from the District spanning six years.
The current hospital building, which opened in the mid-1970s, carries on a legacy that started when Freedman Hospital partnered with Howard during the Reconstruction Era to train African American medical professionals. The latest juncture of this hospital’s history, to some, represents a significant recovery from a financial loss in 2015 that incited fears about its closure.