United Medical Center (UMC), the only general hospital east of the Anacostia River and the only public hospital in Washington, DC, is developing its first budget since coming under new management in May. Spending details won’t be made public until the D.C. Council votes to authorize the budget plan, but the hospital’s strained financial position could portend significant cuts — potentially impacting the range and quality of care for residents of Wards 7 and 8.
The District government established the UMC’s new fiscal management board last spring in order to curb the facility’s large annual deficits. Since its formation, that board has met multiple times to review general operations and prepare for the hospital’s scheduled closure in 2024.
According to a UMC’s spokesperson, the fiscal management board received and voted to approve an operational budget presented by hospital operating firm Mazars during a closed session of their most recent virtual board meeting on July 28. She did not comment on when the D.C. Council would consider the plan.
During the meeting’s open session, prior to voting, board members heard from UMC leadership about how the hospital has fared so far this year. Chief Financial Officer Lillian Chukwuma provided updates on the hospital’s finances, noting that total revenues are 4% lower than budgeted in 2021 while expenses are 7% higher. Though the hospital retained net positive income from operations thanks to a one-time $25 million city subsidy from last spring, revenue from patients has plummeted. UMC’s net patient revenue is 26% lower than budgeted in 2021 so far, and 41% lower than expected in June alone.
“I just worry those numbers keep plummeting, our job gets more difficult,” Wayne Turnage, the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services and member of UMC’s board, said during the meeting.
During the same meeting, Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Strudwick also provided updates regarding COVID-19 vaccinations among hospital staff. Like multiple other hospitals in the District, UMC has not yet formally mandated vaccines among its staff. Strudwick did give Sept. 30 as a target date for implementing such a requirement while estimating that around 50% of UMC’s staff was already fully vaccinated, however he stressed that the figure was not official and that the hospital’s target date for a mandate was still subject to change.
More information about any reductions at UMC will be made available once the D.C. Council begins considering the board’s financial plan. The date for that vote is currently unknown.