University to sell off minority stake in GW Hospital, restructure medical enterprise

Media Credit: Lydia Embry | Photographer

Interim University President Mark Wrighton said SMHS and MFA officials worked with UHS to restructure its connection to GW through a “new partnership affiliation.”

The University will sell off its 20 percent stake in the GW Hospital to Universal Health Services, making the company the sole owner of the hospital.

UHS – a Pennsylvania-based healthcare services company – currently owns a majority share of GW Hospital but must use some of its revenue from the institution to fund educational programs at the hospital under an agreement with the University. The move leaves the Medical Faculty Associates and the School of Medical and Health Sciences as the sole clinical institutions under the University, interim University President Mark Wrighton said in an email to the GW community Saturday.

The email states that SMHS and MFA officials worked with UHS in recent months to restructure its connection to the University through a “new partnership affiliation” based on the practices and organization of health care systems nationwide.

“Academic medical centers such as ours are critical to society and to fulfilling our mission of teaching, research and patient care,” Wrighton said in the email. “With the strong foundation provided through the new arrangement, we look forward to a stable and exciting future in the next chapter of the academic medical enterprise.”

Wrighton said the MFA, SMHS and UHS will continue to work together to provide opportunities for academic and medical research at GW, but his email didn’t specify the details of the new arrangement.

“We are very proud of the health care community at our university and the work done every day to develop and deliver life-saving care, advance innovations in research and train the next generation of health care leaders,” he said.

Barbara Bass, the CEO of the MFA and dean of SMHS, proposed earlier this month restructuring GW’s academic medical enterprise in which the MFA would be housed within the medical school with a more direct relationship to the hospital. She said positioning the medical school and MFA closer to the hospital would increase the overall enterprise’s academic prestige and profitability over time.

“I think there’s absolutely no reason we should not be highly successful, not only from the research and educational perspective, but clinical performance, financial entity in this organization and in this city,” Bass said at a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month.

GW and UHS originally partnered in 1998 to form District Hospital Partners, which operates GW Hospital, and revamp an already-existing medical facility in Foggy Bottom that has existed since 1948.

GW filed a $100 million lawsuit against UHS for failing to meet its obligations to appropriately fund educational programs at the GW Hospital in December 2019, but a D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed most of the case in June 2020.

GW also announced a partnership with UHS and the District in February to start building a new hospital and ambulance bay in Ward 8.

“We have a great team, and we have many outstanding members of our faculty,” Wrighton said at the ground-breaking ceremony in February. “Those medical clinicians are going to make important contributions to the well-being of our entire community.”

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