DC officials order 90-day shutdown of United Medical Center's maternity ward

Washington D.C.-based United Medical Center was ordered to shut down its obstetrics ward for 90 days by district regulators, according to the Washington Post.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the hospital attributed the shutdown to three separate cases involving deficiencies in screening, clinical assessment and delivery protocols. United Medical Center spokeswoman Jennifer Devlin said that HIPAA regulations do not allow the hospital to disclose specific details; however, "UMC is taking immediate action to address these deficiencies."

The District Health Department is restricting the license that allows UMC to perform obstetrics and nursery care until a plan is implemented to improve those services. If the hospital passes inspections prior to the 90-day mark, the restrictions could be lifted.

Other services at the hospital are not impacted by the order.

At this time, any baby admitted at UMC will be transferred to another hospital. UMC physicians can still provide childbirth services in emergency situations; however, the medical center is urging patients to use other facilities in Washington, D.C.

"UMC had already initiated the process of transitioning from a Level III neonatal intensive care center, and we will be working to ensure that all physicians and nursing staff have appropriate training in policy and procedures," Ms. Devlin told Becker's Hospital Review. "Until that process is complete, UMC will coordinate alternative services through Emergency Medical Services and local hospital partners to care for our current obstetric patients."

UMC serves some of the poorest residents in Washington, D.C. Ward 7 council member Vincent Gray deemed the closure a "health equity" issue.

"I am incredibly concerned that residents on the East End of the District no longer have the option to have their babies delivered at an East End hospital," Mr. Gray, said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. "The continued struggles of United Medical Center highlight the unacceptable chasm in health equity that is currently a way of life for residents on the East End of the District of Columbia."

Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 10 to include United Medical Center's statement. 

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