Best and worst from this week’s headlines

The launch of the new textbook sharing program shows that GW is making progress on affordability. But it looks like GW Hospital needs to reevaluate its performance after failing to rank regionally and nationally.

Here’s the best and worst news from around campus and the District this week.

Thumbs up

GW Libraries will have a free textbook-sharing program for high enrollment courses starting this fall.

The new textbook-sharing program, called Top Textbooks, will have one to two copies of textbooks required in high enrollment courses. More than 30 courses will be covered with mainly introductory courses in subjects like political science, economics, physics, psychology, math and geography, according to the libraries’ website.

The program operates much like the existing course reserves system, with textbooks available for a two hour loan period or overnight if the textbook is checked out two hours before the main desk closes and stays in the library. Although books can’t be renewed, they can be checked out again after a 15 minute waiting period. There’s a $1.20 per hour late fee in place with a maximum fine of $30.

The program initially started out as a proposal from Student Association President Peak Sen Chua. The aim of the initiative is to make textbooks more affordable to students. Rising textbook costs place a significant burden on many students who can’t afford the $1,200 average annual cost of textbooks and hinders the ability of students to succeed in class. The launch of the Top Textbooks program is certainly a step in the right direction. Increasing affordability and accessibility needs to be a top priority for the SA and the University.

In the past, some professors placed a copy or two of the textbooks needed for their courses in the library that could be accessed by students through the course reserves system. The Top Textbooks program has expanded the course reserves practices and created a formal system for a practice that was already implemented by some professors.

But this program is only the first step in addressing the issue of rising textbook costs. The number of textbook copies in the program should increase. Although one or two textbook copies will be useful, it definitely won’t be enough for high enrollment classes. Overall, one can hope that this is just the beginning. Hopefully, the University and SA expands the program to include more courses and help more students.

Thumbs down

GW Hospital wasn’t ranked in a U.S. News and World Report list of the 11 best hospitals in the D.C. region.

In fact, the hospital wasn’t ranked nationally in any category. Meanwhile, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital topped the region list and ranked 24 nationally in diabetes and endocrinology care. Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore was ranked as the third best hospital in the country.

The rankings are determined after evaluations of almost 5,000 hospitals nationwide in 16 adult specialities, nine adult procedures and 10 pediatric specialities, according to the U.S News and World Report.

For two years in a row, GW was one of 18 hospitals recognized nationally for its quality surgical patient care. But in recent years, the Hospital has faced more issues than honors.

Last year, the GW Hospital received a one-star rating by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services. In 2016, there were also two lawsuits filed against the hospital. In one case, a former professor of radiation oncology sued the hospital and the GW Medical Faculty Associates for coercing her to resign after harassment and bullying by fellow employees. In another case, a former GW Hospital resident is suing the University for discrimination and then allegedly firing her because she had cancer. To add to these woes, care at the GW Hospital doesn’t come cheap. GW topped the list of D.C. hospitals for its expensive medical procedures.

It’s true that rankings don’t completely reflect the performance of the hospitals and the entirety of its practices. But the rankings and incidents add up to a real cause for concern to everyone, from patients to medical residents who are being trained there.

It’s time for GW Hospital to evaluate its practices to ensure that it’s providing quality medical services to patients.

Shwetha Srinivasan, a senior majoring in International Affairs and Economics, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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