News and Analysis

Thursday, July 28, 2016 5:15 p.m.

Medicare gives GW Hospital one-star rating

The GW Hospital

GW Hospital received a one-star rating from Medicare this week. Hatchet File Photo.

The GW Hospital was one of 129 hospitals to receive a one-star rating on the federal government’s first hospital quality ratings, Kaiser Health News reported Wednesday.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rated more than 3,600 hospitals based on 64 factors that Medicare has previously used to rate the quality of hospitals. These factors include measures like death rates, patient experience and safety of care, but do not account for hospitals that provide specialty care.

Five D.C. hospitals received one-out-of-five star ratings, including MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. MedStar Georgetown and GW Hospital both train medical residents.

Hospital officials often argue that rankings do not fairly account for hospitals that treat the toughest cases, Kaiser Health News reported.

Kate Goodrich, the director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality who oversees Medicare’s quality ratings, said in a statement that the ratings “empower” patients to choose healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals.

“We have received numerous letters from national patient and consumer advocacy groups supporting the release of these ratings because it improves the transparency and accessibility of hospital quality information,” Goodrich said.

Only 102 hospitals received five-star ratings, and Kaiser Health News reported that many of these are “relatively obscure,” or are highly specialized.

Some critics of Medicare’s rating system argue that the standards by which the hospitals are measured are not “well-designed.”

Steven Lipstein, the president of BJC HealthCare, told Kaiser Health News that the results reflect the affluence of the patients being served. Lipstein said that lower-scoring hospitals are usually located in less-affluent areas. Medicare does not consider the wealth of patients when rating hospitals.

“The stars tell you more about the socio-demographics of the population being served than the quality of the hospital,” Lipstein said.

Darrell Kirch, the president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in a statement that the ratings are over-simplified and could mislead patients.

“Hospitals cannot be rated like movies,” Kirch said. “We are extremely concerned about the potential consequences for patients that could result from portraying an overly simplistic picture of hospital quality with a star rating system that combines many complex factors and ignores the socio-demographic factors that have a real impact on health.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Law professor John Banzhaf filed a complaint against Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby last week. Hatchet file photo.

Law professor John Banzhaf filed a complaint against Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby earlier this month. Hatchet file photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Liz Provencher.

John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor, filed a complaint against Baltimore City’s State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for prosecuting police officers involved with the arrest and subsequent death of Baltimore teenager Freddie Gray.

Last week, Banzhaf also filed complaints against Michael Schatzow and Janice Bledzoe, two deputy state attorneys in Maryland, according to The Baltimore Sun. He filed the additional charges because Mosby acquitted a third officer in the Gray trial last Monday, he told the Sun.

Prosecutors dropped all charges against Baltimore police Wednesday.

In the complaint filed with the Maryland Office of Bar Counsel, Banzhaf cited several of Mosby’s ethics violations when prosecuting the officers: Mosby failed to turn over all useful evidence to the defense, Banzhaf said. She also engaged in fraudulent or misleading tactics and charged the officers without probable cause, he said.

As a law professor, Banzhaf said it is his duty to file complaints like this and do work to tackle major social issues. He added that he was prompted to get involved in the case, because he was “a watchdog without a dog in the fight.”

What made you decide to file the complaint?

John Banzhaf: This case reminded me very much of a situation that I ran into in 2006 with another runaway prosecutor named Mike Nifong who brought charges of rape against three Duke University students. When he originally brought the case I thought it was very weak and dubious but as the trial went on it continued to get weaker and for whatever reason he refused to drop it. I immediately saw a parallel between that and what was happening up in Baltimore.

Then as Mosby’s case continued on, her case became weaker to the point where the judge outright rejected virtually all of her legal theories. When I read the judge’s decision on the second trial, it was clear to me that she didn’t have a case going forward, and I filed the complaint.

How are these violations related to the protests surrounding Freddie Gray’s death?

JB: Mosby was quoted saying “I hear your call for ‘no justice, no peace’ and your peace is needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man,” which to me sounds like she is saying, “Yes I am reacting to the violence and protests,” which could have led to her behavior. But preventing mobs from rioting, that is not the job of a prosecutor or a judge. It would be ethically wrong.

Many people in Baltimore are expecting what Mosby called “justice” and yet in this trial, every time a cop is charged but there is no conviction, I think there is tremendous disappointment. I think that keeping these trials going is just going to further enflame the situation in Baltimore and it’s creating great tensions in the city.

What do you hope will happen as a result of this complaint being filed?

JB: I really hope that the Bar Committee in Baltimore will discipline her whether that be debarring, etc. It’s important that this happens because prosecutors are held to a higher standard, because they hold more power than a regular attorney.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
A worker was rescued from the escalator pit at the Foggy Bottom Metro station Thursday morning. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

A worker was rescued from the escalator pit at the Foggy Bottom Metro station Thursday morning. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet editors Avery Anapol and Dan Rich.

D.C. Fire and EMS rescued a worker who suffered a medical emergency this morning while working in a below-ground escalator pit at the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

The department reported the emergency via Twitter at 9:19 am. The rescue was complete by 9:49 am, according to the department’s Twitter account.

Public Information Officer Vito Maggiolo said that the department’s technical rescue team used a tripod hoist to raise the worker out of the pit.

“The biggest challenge was the confined space he was working in,” Maggiolo said.

Maggiolo said the worker’s condition does not appear to be life-threatening, and that the rescued worker was taken to the emergency room at GW Hospital.

Although the department’s Twitter originally reported that an “injured worker fell in an escalator pit,” Maggiolo said that the worker suffered a medical emergency, not an injury, while already working in the pit.

“It’s an access point for the repair people that work on the escalator for the Foggy Bottom metro,” Maggiolo said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
The former City Hall will be renovated into luxury apartments designed for mellenials. Hatchet file photo

The former City Hall will be renovated into luxury apartments designed for mellenials. Hatchet file photo

Off-campus students will have another high-end apartment option near campus, after the former City Hall is renovated with millennials in mind.

The building on 24th Street will be called Varsity on K and will include 197 studio, one and two-bedroom apartment units, Washington Business Journal reported Wednesday. The building, set to open on Jan. 3, will include a gym, a computer room and a game room with a pool table.

The outdoor pool will be demolished and turned into a green courtyard, WBJ reported. Each of the rooms will have a washer and dryer, quartz counter tops, a walk-in closet and wifi and cable included in the rent, for a final price that has not yet been released.

Varsity principal Donnie Gross, who heads the company who is renovating the building, said the design is meant to attract college students and young professionals in the area because “there’s just no housing for them,” he told WBJ.

“Our goal is to have them bring a laptop and their clothes,” he said. “That’s an ideal tenant for us.”

GW’s 15-year lease on the building ended just in time for it to be sold in May for almost $80 million. This is the first D.C. project for the building’s owners, Durant Berkeley Partners LLC, which specializes in off-campus apartment buildings for students in places like the University of Maryland to the University of California at Berkeley.

Gross added that workers found a bag of marijuana in one of the room’s ceilings, left there by a student moving out.

Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski told the Journal that she worries neighbors will encounter the same issues with GW students littering and having noisy parties as they did when the building was a residence hall.

“I am concerned that might happen again, especially if these are young people who, for the lack of a better word, are unsupervised,” Streznewski told WBJ. “And we can’t go to GW and complain. Even though it’s not going to be officially a dorm, it sounds something like a dorm. I am not soothed by this information.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities moved to 812 20th Street two months ago, the University announced in an email to students last week.

The SRR office is the disciplinary branch of the University– students are sent to the office if they participate in any sort of misconduct that could lead the University to take disciplinary action against them.

The offices were previously housed in City Hall, a former residence hall that GW leased for the last 15 years. The building sold for almost $80 million in May to Durant Berkeley Partners LLC and is currently undergoing renovations. Before then, the offices were located in the John Quincy Adams House on I Street.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

GW will soon sell its W Street residential property near the Mount Vernon Campus, which most recently served as the provost’s residence, according to a University release Monday.

The proceeds from the sale will fund financial aid for students in the the Women’s Leadership Program and University Honors Program, which are both housed on the campus, according to the release.

Provost Forrest Maltzman said in the release that selling the house will allow the University to invest in additional financial aid to support students.

“Selling the W Street House presents an opportunity for the university to continue to invest in financial aid, supporting our students so they can take full advantage of a GW education regardless of financial resources,” Maltzman said.

The University first took ownership the house as part of its acquisition of the Mount Vernon Campus in 1999, according to the release.

The house was most recently the provost’s residence but has been vacant since former Provost Steven Lerman stepped down at the end of 2015. Lerman hosted monthly “Pancakes with the Provost” events for students in the house.

Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president for operations, said in the release that officials considered selling the property because it was already vacant.

“In this case, we decided that it was in the university’s best interest to offer the property for sale,” Knight said in the release.

Washington Fine Properties will represent GW in the sale, according to the release.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

GW took a significant hit in this year’s Money magazine rankings, which reflects the return on investment for more than 700 universities nationwide.

The University ranked No. 376 in Money’s report, dropping more than 160 spots from last year’s 209 finish. The year before, GW ranked No. 214.

The magazine analyses colleges and universities based on quality of education – which includes the test scores of incoming freshmen, graduation rates and student to faculty ratios – as well as affordability and outcome, which examines graduates’ earnings.

Money omitted institutions with poor financial health, low graduation rates or fewer than 500 students.

GW ranked above five of its peer schools, including American, Boston, Southern Methodist and Tulane universities and the University of Miami. Vanderbilt was GW’s highest-ranking peer school, landing the 27th spot on the list. Last year, Vanderbilt was 24.

Princeton University topped this year’s list, knocking Stanford University down from the top spot to No. 10.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences has created a new Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research, according to a press release.

The new center “focuses on multi-disciplinary, collaborative scholarship on enhancing value in health care delivery” and will absorb the Office of Clinical Practice Innovation and Urgent Matters, “expanding its reach across GW,” according to the release.

Jesse Pines, the new center’s director and a professor of emergency medicine and health policy and management, said in the release that a major focus of the center will be “the rigorous study of the most innovative practices in medical care with the goal of promoting evidence-based public policy.”

“We hope to contribute to effective policymaking and improve healthcare in a time of major delivery system and payment changes,” Pines said in the release.

The center’s core faculty includes Pines; Steven Farmer, who will act as the center’s associate director and is also an associate professor of medicine, Andrew Meltzer, an associate professor of emergency medicine, Barbara Gage, an associate professor of clinical research and leadership and Trudy Mallinson, also an associate professor of clinical research and leadership, according to the release.

The center will create partnerships both within GW and across the nation, which will be formally recognized through a fellows and scholars program, according to the release.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The GW Cancer Center received a $1 million grant for a training program to promote health equity and improve communications for patients and providers, according to a release.

The Pfizer Foundation, a charitable organization that provides funds and resources to improve global health strategies, awarded the grant to the center to advance cancer care by improving communication, patient health literacy and cultural sensitivity between patients and health care providers.

Mandi Pratt-Chapman, the lead researcher and associate center director for patient-centered initiatives and health equity at the GW Cancer Center, said in the release that health care professionals are pressed for time and patients are often overwhelmed by information.

“We will develop tools to help patients identify their priorities for care and clarify when information is confusing,” Pratt-Chapman said. “We will also train patient navigators and clinicians on communication techniques to support patient engagement and understanding of information across diverse and intersecting backgrounds.”

This grant will continue efforts to help patients make informed choices about their health care through the GW Cancer Center’s Prepared Patient Program.

The program will train patients to advocate for themselves, and health care providers will learn culturally sensitive practices, according to the release.

This research will also examine the ways gender, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity and income impact the patient and provider relationship. Researchers hope to determine if providers who received this training will be more committed to providing culturally sensitive care, the release states.

“Productive patient-provider interactions are essential to ensuring that all individuals living with cancer are able to access quality care,” Caroline Roan, the president of the Pfizer Foundation, said in the release. “We are pleased to be working with the GW Cancer Center on this initiative to improve access to patient-centered, equitable oncology care for women.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments