March 13, 2011
New energy. New staff. Better care. Photo: congressheightsontherise.com.
United Medical Center, formerly Greater Southeast Hospital, opened a new infectious disease center last month. The center is a welcomed addition to Ward 8 where new HIV infection rates in 2006 alone topped more than 1,000 people. After months of planning and advocating, Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor of Medicine at Howard University, saw this brainstorm manifest into reality. Dr. Fitzpatrick is a recent appointee to the Mayor's commission on AIDS which convened last week.
Khadijah Tribble, Director of Business Operations, explained Dr. Fitzpatrick's drive and the goals for the center. "For someone who has been here for such a short time, she has infliltrated every major circle and activist group in public health there is. She is well respected." Dr. Fitzpatrick wants to make testing a 100% routine procedure at United Medical. "There could be complications being caused by having HIV in someone's system. It could affect their vision, people with gout, etc. So we're trying to get physicians, no matter what they treat, to get on board with testing for HIV," said Tribble.
The opening of this center is just the first step in a long range plan. The next step is to merge various offices into one full treatment center where care for a patient with HIV is inclusive. Ms. Tribble explains, "The idea is that we are going to have a primary care center with some major components. One is primary care. The others will be specialty care, OB/GYN, mental health services, and the infectious disease center. If we have all of that rolled into one, the physicians will have to talk to each other because we're all under one roof." The Infectious Disease Center also wants to add a wellness and health education portion to this facility. "That can bring people into the hospital for preventive purposes not just reactive. Let's deal with it before it becomes a problem. Running an acute health care facility where people are traditionally underserved doesn't work."
Expect great things from the Infectious Disease Center and the staff at United Medical Center. It's not the same Greater Southeast Hospital anymore.