Ascension sued by city officials to keep DC health system open

The District of Columbia attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against St. Louis-based Ascension on Dec. 14, claiming the Catholic health system's move to shutter Washington, D.C.-based Providence Health System violates the terms of Providence's hospital license, according to The Washington Post.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of District Mayor Muriel Bowser, said the hospital closure plan must be approved by local health officials, according to the report. Providence Health System — the city's oldest continuously operating hospital — primarily serves the city's underrepresented and low-income populations.

Ascension announced in September it planned to close Providence Health System's emergency room by Dec. 5 and end all acute care services by Dec. 14. However, under pressure from city officials, Ascension agreed to keep the system's ER open through April and maintain 10 out of 238 beds for patients who need to be admitted.

Ascension officials claim the move to shutter the hospital is necessary, as Providence Health System has continued to struggle financially in recent years.

"Providence and Ascension remain committed to the District and are pleased to be able to respond to the community need for this extended period," Patricia Maryland, president and CEO of Ascension Healthcare, said in a news release obtained by The Washington Post last week.

The D.C. City Council has also passed legislation empowering officials to force hospitals to remain open, the report states.

To access the full report, click here.

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