Children's National Medical Center Opens Satellite Emergency Facility in Ward 8

Shantella Y. Sherman | 9/29/2010, 11:49 a.m.
Mildred Hines, with her daughter Nichelle and granddaughter Kristal, took part in the United...

Mildred Hines, with her daughter Nichelle and granddaughter Kristal, took part in the United Medical Center announcement festivities at the UMC building in Southeast. Nichelle, 27 is an emergency room nurse who will be among the core service providers at the new facility. Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman
New Facility to Aid District's Disenfranchised Children

Angelique Mondeshire makes frequent trips to the Emergency Room. Not for herself -but for her seven children - who range in age from three-months to 15-years old. The frantic mother admits that she has spent the better part of her adult life rushing from one hospital to the next in search of triage for her children.

Today, she can breathe a little easier with the opening of Children's National Medical Center's new satellite emergency facility at the United Medical Center in Southeast.

"Two of my children have acute asthma and allergies and it could be almost anything that triggers an attack. It is scary to watch your children struggle to breathe while trying to get them from Wheeler Road [in Southeast] all the way to Howard [University Hospital] or the nearest emergency room," Mondeshire, 34 said.

"This new center will be a blessing to so many people."

The state-of-the-art, full-service emergency department opened on Tue., Sept. 28, and boasts 10,800-square-feet of space and the same celebrated staff of doctors, nurses, and clinical care practitioners who hail from Children's National Medical Center in Northwest.

After years of negotiations with United Medical Center's previous owners and coupled with the deterioration of the United Medical Center campus, Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), an ardent health care advocate, put on his gloves and engineered the project. During the grand opening on Thu., Sept. 23, Catania said that he was pleased and somewhat overwhelmed.

"There has not been the type of investment in health care in this city in Wards 7 and 8. In the last five years, we have invested approximately $300 million - more than in the last 35 years of Home Rule. Bringing this facility to this community is the birth of a dream that brings accessible health care to these residents," Catania said.

In addition to being able to serve residents in close proximity to their homes, he said that the development of a children's emergency facility in Ward 8 was crucial to the continued success of facilities in other areas of the District.

"My commitment is to all of the residents of this city. An investment in the children in this community will also benefit all residents as other facilities will have shorter wait times, and children from around the city will be able to receive quality health care as close to their homes as possible," the council member said.

Children's National Medical Center's Emergency Department on Michigan Avenue, in the District, currently has 8,000 - 10,000 visits per year from patients who live in neighborhoods in Southeast. Now, children who live in Wards 7 and 8 can receive the same quality care closer to home.

Kwame Brown, (D-At-Large), also attended the kick-off festivities. He said the center would offer a vital health link to children who live East of the River, while also providing care from physicians who are already familiar with their case histories, the children and their parents.

"I live East of the River and have two small children. Recently, I had to rush one of them to Washington Hospital Center. I know what it is like when seconds and minutes seem like hours," Brown said.

"With this center, and I must thank David Catania for his vision and leadership or it would not be here today, my children will receive the same quality care, world-class care, at the United Medical Center facility as they would at Children's National Medical Center," he said.

Hassani Hammond, 29, and a Ward 7 resident said that the new center will definitely help him to better address his daughter's diabetes and ensure that she is stabilized quickly.

Hammond said that his 14-year-old daughter, Jabril has a sweet-tooth. She often eats sugary treats without understanding the consequences.

"The goal is to get Jabril accustomed to doing what is best for her health. In the meantime, as a dad, all I know is that something is wrong with her and I need to get her to a professional as soon as possible," Hammond said.

"I must have people right here in our own neighborhood [to] help me [to] monitor and direct her habits. I am grateful the doctors are here," he said.
During the grand opening, Catania and members of the United Medical Center and Children's National Medical Center faculty were joined District officials who included Jacqueline Bowens, executive vice president and chief government and external affairs officer, and Dr. Pierre Vigilance, the director of the D.C. Department of Health.

Vigilance said that he was pleased that the collaborative efforts between Bowens and Catania had produced results.

"I was at a wall not too long ago with a hard hat in-hand and a gold sledgehammer to announce an official groundbreaking for this project. This is about access to care," Vigilance said.

"Our emphasis at the D.C. Department of Health is access to quality health care in high quality locations, because locations play a part in health and social disparities. The parents here are no different than any other parents; they love their children," he said.

Jacqueline D. Bowens, Executive Vice President and Chief Government and External Affairs Officer of Children's National Medical Center shares a moment with At-Large Councilmember David Catania at the UMC-National Children's announcement. Catania was steadfast in bringing the $300 million project to fruition. The new facility will allow children East of the River access to quality and critical emergency healthcare as close to their own homes as possible. Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman