Ground broken for 1st DC hospital to open in 20 years, will be in Ward 8

D.C. and Universal Health Services on Thursday broke ground on the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, in Southeast Washington.

In addition to being the first hospital to open in the city in 20 years, the hospital will become the first trauma center east of the Anacostia River in D.C.

“The new hospital will offer the resources that the community deserves and has asked for,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center will be on the St. Elizabeths Campus, in an area known as St. Elizabeths East and will take the place of city-owned United Medical Center.

“Let’s be clear: This is not just a transition from our older hospital; it is a fresh start for the community,” Bowser said.

The hospital, which is slated to open in December 2024, will be a 136-bed full service hospital operated by UHS; its neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric emergency room will be operated by Children’s National.

The facility is part of the city’s solution to address health disparities around access to medical care for historically underserved city residents. According to the city, a resident born today in Ward 8 has a life expectancy of 15 years less than someone born in the more affluent Ward 3.

“This will be the first time that the east end of the District of Columbia has ever had a true health care system for all of the people who live in Wards 7 and 8,” said Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray.

On Thursday, before the groundbreaking, Bowser and others commended Gray — Bowser’s predecessor — for his work in making the hospital a reality.

Council member Trayon White said it felt good to see this day arrive.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are going to benefit from this quality health care system in Ward 8,” White said.

Kimberly Russo, with Chief Executive Officer for George Washington Hospital, said Cedar Hill in its first year is expected to serve more than 40,000 patients in its emergency room, care for 5,000 patients admitted to the hospital and deliver more than 2,500 babies.

“I have no doubt that this hospital will be pivotal in changing and improving health care in our nation’s capital, and together, we look forward to what is on the horizon,” Russo said.

Ground is broken on Ward 8's Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 7 Council Member Vincent Gray and others break ground on new trauma center, Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, at St. Elizabeths East campus in Southeast D.C., on Thursday, Feb, 17, 2022. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

Cedar Hill will be designated as a Level 3 trauma center. The hospital, once opened, will be staffed by 550 full-time workers.

Care for patients will be provided by physicians and graduate medical students from The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Children’s National Hospital.

The hospital will also provide health services that are difficult to obtain east of the river, including women’s health services, behavior and mental health treatment, and specialty care that focuses on areas of the body, such as the heart and brain. Outpatient services will also be available.

The $375 million project will also bring the first two urgent care centers to Ward’s 7 and 8, city leaders said.

The hospital is named after Frederick Douglass’ historic residence in Anacostia.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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