United Medical Center
**FILE** D.C.'s United Medical Center (WI photo)

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.

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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