Southeast hospital may contract GW

GW Hospital may take over the day-to-day operations of the emergency room at Greater Southeast Community Hospital – D.C.’s only full-service hospital east of the Anacostia River – if the two groups develop a contract, which is in the early stages of discussion.

Robert Shesser, GW Hospital’s chair of emergency medicine, said the contract would require GW’s Medical Faculty Associates to staff Greater Southeast’s Emergency Room with physicians. Most hospitals do not staff their own facilities, but rather make contracts with service providers who then provide manpower and management.

Despite recent media reports that indicated the possibility of a “partnership” between GW Hospital and Greater Southeast, both Shesser and Colene Y. Daniel, CEO of Greater Southeast, said the deal would create a contract, not a partnership. The two groups have not gotten very far in discussions. Greater Southeast went bankrupt in 2004.

“This is not a partnership. A partnership has legal meaning,” Shesser said in an interview last week. “What’s being discussed is a business contract between Southeast and GW’s Medical Faculty Associates.”

Shesser also indicated the tentative nature of the situation.

“There have been three years of off-and-on discussions. This is not going to happen tomorrow, or even in the next month or two,” he said.

While Shesser and local media outlets have said GW and Greater Southeast have had “discussions” regarding a possible contract, Daniel said that may be an exaggeration.

“GW and GSCH have had an introductory phone call. There is not even a proposal, verbal, written or otherwise,” Daniel said. “We do not even have our second discussion (planned) until later this month.”

Shesser said that the reason Greater Southeast wants to switch service providers might be attributed to dissatisfaction with its current group. Daniel, however, said she has no concerns with the way Greater Southeast’s Emergency Room is being operated.

“The group managing the Emergency Department is doing a fine job,” she said, adding that she is concerned about the amount of attention the situation has been getting and how it has been handled.

“An idea was forwarded in general discussion and now things have gotten out of hand,” she said.

Shesser recognized that there is a chance that a switch would be unnecessary. He said the group that staffs Southeast’s ER is planning on making changes, and that these changes could impact Greater Southeast’s opinion of the service they receive. Greater Southeast is therefore waiting to see what could be done to rectify the situation before finalizing any contract with GW.

If a contract between the two groups goes into effect, all doctors working in Southeast’s ER would have to be employees of GW’s Medical Faculty Associates.

Shesser said, “We would bring new physicians in and employ some current physicians, but change how things are managed.”

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