Nearly 300 people, along with District leaders, attended the highly-anticipated groundbreaking of the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, GW Health on the campus of St. Elizabeths East in Ward 8 on Feb. 17.
The $375 million facility will be the only full-service hospital east of the Anacostia River and will tentatively open in December 2024.
Cedar Hill will be managed by Universal Health Services in concert with the George Washington University and Children’s National Hospital. It will provide patients a state-of-the-art, 136-bed, comprehensive service health care center with an ambulatory pavilion for physician’s offices, clinics and community space, a 500-car garage and a helipad for emergency transports.
More important, it will be the first inpatient hospital to open in the city in over two decades.
The hospital gets its name from the estate of 19th century abolitionist and civil rights leader Frederick Douglass.
Kenneth B. Morris, a descendant of Douglass, said the hospital “will provide much needed comfort and care.”
D.C. Councilmember Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) has worked on securing a modern health care facility for residents east of the river for several years.
“Building a new hospital and creating a robust healthcare system on the East End of the city has been a goal of mine since my tenure as mayor,” said Gray, who served as mayor from 2011-2015.
“I am grateful that my colleagues supported this vision and saw the vital importance of increasing access to quality healthcare for Ward 7 and District residents. The creation of a comprehensive health care system anchored by the new state-of-the-art Cedar Regional Medical Center is one of the best ways to ensure justice, equity and accessibility in healthcare services to residents of Wards 7 and 8,” he said.
Gray thanked his successor, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, as well as Deputy Mayors Wayne Turnage and John Falcicchio and former City Administrator Rashad Young, his council colleagues and staffers “for getting us to this point today.”
“I look forward to continuing to work together to bring health equity to District residents, especially to those in Ward 7,” Gray said.
The 365,000 square feet facility will include: a newborn delivery unit with a neonatal intensive care unit; academic medicine and pediatric care units with physicians and medical students from the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates and the George Washington medical and health sciences schools; Children’s Hospital and local practitioners; women’s health services; adult and children emergency departments; a trauma (the first located east of the river); 16 behavioral health beds for voluntary and involuntary services; operating rooms; doctor’s offices for specialists; outpatient services; solar power which reaches into the neighborhood; and a staff of 550 full-time professionals.
Community reaction to new hospital
D.C. Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8) expressed his optimism about Cedar Hill.
“It smells like a new ward today,” White said. “Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands will benefit from this hospital. Ward 8 residents, particularly seniors, have had to travel across the city during a pandemic in order to receive treatment. I am excited we will have a real, state-of-the-art trauma center here in the ward. We are in the business of saving lives.”
Ambrose Lane, Jr., a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the at-large council position in the June 21 primary, celebrated the groundbreaking but said more work on community engagement needs to be done.
“This is a good win for the community,” said Lane, a Ward 7 resident. “However, we still have to resolve workforce issues and find ways to deal with chronic diseases. We cannot stop – we must continue to fight for quality health care.”
8C advisory neighborhood commission chairman Salim Adofo said the new hospital will bring more than just patients and employees to the community.
“This will be an economic boost to Ward 8,” Adofo said. “People who work at the hospital will go out into the ward to spend their money at the shops and restaurants we have here. I also see the building benefitting the community aesthetically with a great edifice. The new hospital will make Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue more vibrant.”