Plans for hospital site remain indefinite

GW expects to open the doors to a new hospital in just three years, but GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said it remains unclear what will happen to the site of the current hospital when the new facility opens.

“It’s just too soon to tell,” said GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. The University must consider its options before entertaining any ideas, he said.

The University and its for-profit partner, Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services Inc., decided six months ago it was more financially sound to build a new facility than to renovate the existing hospital.

The new facility is scheduled to open in 2001 across 23rd Street from the current hospital. Groundbreaking on the 400,000-square foot, $96 million state-of-the-art hospital is targeted for the end of this year. Administrators announced the project plans last March.

“It’s hard to think about what to do with the old building until you’ve actually broken ground on the new one,” Trachtenberg said.

“It’s a classic question of competing possibilities,” he said. “There’s going to have to be a campus dialogue and everyone will want to get in on it. But that won’t be for a good six months.”

In the meantime, some GW students and faculty said they have ideas about future uses for the building.

“I think that we need a new science building,” said English Professor Gail Paster. “There are many departments that are strapped for space, but it seems that the science buildings are the most needy.”

Some GW students suggested using the old hospital site to solve the housing shortage that has come with the ever-expanding size of freshman classes in recent years.

“We could use some more student housing with singles,” said senior Amy Greenberg. “Housing seems to be a major issue with more and more freshmen coming in each year.”

“If they made it into a dorm, I would have some `germaphobe’ issues,” said senior Jane Chick. “We need another library.”

Junior Joy Richmond said she would like to see the hospital used as a cafeteria and student wellness center.

But for now, GW students will have to be patient.

“Until we see the plow break the earth . then we can start planning,” Trachtenberg said.

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