Providence Health System in northeast D.C. (Courtesy of Turner Construction Company)
Providence Health System in northeast D.C. (Courtesy of Turner Construction Company)

Providence Health System in northeast D.C. plans what officials call an innovative approach to best serve the health care needs of the District and beyond.

The centerpiece will transform the hospital campus into an integrated “Health Village” to encompass more than traditional health care services, officials said in a news release.

The Health Village will count as a multi-use, walkable community inclusive of both health and non-health services and the vision includes a continued focus on providing compassionate, personalized care to the community — when, where and how it is needed, according to the news release.

“We have begun to see the impact of a changing health care landscape both locally and nationally,” said Darcy K. Burthay, president and CEO of Providence, which is a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit and Catholic health system. “That’s why over the past several months, we engaged in discussions to thoughtfully explore how Providence can best contribute to meeting the variety of health needs of our community in a sustainable way.

“With a continued commitment to our mission and recognizing the gaps in services that impact our community’s overall well-being, we considered the current and future availability of health services in the region in the context of significant income and health disparities, high population growth, and the continuing shift to outpatient and ambulatory care, along with continued economic pressures from payers and ongoing uncertainty related to health care reform. The outcome was an inspiring and exciting vision for Providence and those we serve,” Burthay said.

Participants in the discussions, led by Providence and Ascension leadership, included civic leaders, representatives of the District of Columbia Hospital Association, the D.C. Department of Health and Department of Behavioral Health, leaders of other health care providers, physician leaders, board members and members of the Daughters of Charity, the historical religious sponsors of Providence.

“Transforming our Washington, D.C., health facility into a Health Village will enable us to sustain our mission of serving all with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable,” said Steve Strazzella, chair of the Providence Hospital board of directors. “The new approach will create a campus that is better able to meet the needs of a changing and growing community, working in partnership with other community organizations and service providers to serve people’s needs in the ways that are most convenient and best for them as individuals.”

Working with civic and community leaders, as well as community members, the Health Village concept will develop over time with a vision of creating an innovative plan consistent with the needs of the District, ensuring the health and overall wellbeing of the community continues to grow, according to the news release.

Elements of the Health Village could include a transformed approach to acute care delivery incorporating right-sizing of emergency care capabilities paired with the addition of urgent care services along with focusing on select medical and surgical services.

Further plans include primary care, specialty care, ambulatory surgery, telehealth/virtual care, diagnostic services and pharmacy services and expanded post-acute care working with Carroll Manor, Providence’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation center and Ascension Living, which operates senior living, assisted living and long-term care communities and Ascension at Home, Ascension’s home care partnership.

Other organizations in the partnership plan to offer services not traditionally considered part of health care but those that have an impact on the health of individuals and communities including recreation, green space and/or walking trails.

“Ascension and the Daughters of Charity have served residents of Washington, D.C., for more than 150 years, with a legacy that dates back to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln,” said Dr. Patricia A. Maryland, the executive vice president of Ascension and the president and CEO of Ascension Healthcare. “Through the years, Providence has adapted to the changing needs of the community.

“Our transformation to this Health Village concept is a continuation of that legacy and our commitment to serve the community where and how we are most needed. As the Health Village evolves, this innovative approach could serve as a model for care delivery in communities Ascension serves across the country,” she said.

Burthay added that everyone has expressed excitement about the planned Health Village.

“We’re looking forward to continuing discussions with our physician partners, community organizations, local government leaders, philanthropists and donors to bring this important development project to life,” Burthay said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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