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UMC Future in Jeopardy After City Cuts Veritas Contract

United Medical Center board Chair LaRuby May said the board’s goal is to keep the hospital open, but that it’s “not possible” to find a new operator in the short time between last week’s vote to disapprove the Veritas contract extension and the expiration of its current contract on Nov. 30.

“It’s three weeks to do a whole lot of things. It’s three weeks to keep the hospital from falling, from closing,” May, who supported an extension of the Veritas contract, told Sam Ford of WJLA-TV (Channel 7). “There has been a significant amount of damage to the hospital because of this vote.”

City legislators on Nov. 7 severed ties with Veritas, the managing company of the city’s only public hospital, in a 7-6 vote that blocked its one-year, $4 million contract extension.

The hospital’s board of directors will hold its monthly meeting publicly on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rise Demonstration Center (2730 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE).

Mayor Muriel Bowser and officials of her administration have also defended Veritas, saying that the firm inherited significant problems when they took over UMC.

“[Veritas] has done what we asked them to do. They’ve done a very good job,” said D.C. Department of Health Care Finance Director Wayne Turnage. “They have stabilized the financials of the hospital.”

The measure to disapprove Veritas’ contract extension came amid questions about the company’s performance after the D.C. Department of Health ordered the sudden closure of UMC’s obstetrics ward for 90 days in August due to critical lapses in patient safety procedures.

The hospital was losing $4 million a quarter when they came on and the preliminary report from the CFO shows they are roughly in a breaking position, Turnage said.

Bowser said UMC’s board conducted an investigation into claims made by former UMC staff alleging that Veritas undermined patient safety efforts, but found them to be baseless.

The Informer reached out to May for comment, but did not receive a response.

Tatyana Hopkins contributed to this report.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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