DC Hospitals Are Removing Barriers to Substance Use Treatment Through Community Collaboration

Peer recovery and outreach coaches from five District hospitals gathered for an in-person meeting at Unity Health Care, a community health center, on September 9. The group met to discuss strategies for eliminating barriers and increasing community support for patients entering substance use treatment programs. For the peers, having a strong relationship with community partners is a key component of the referral process, and often determines whether a patient is linked to treatment.

“I loved putting a face to the name of providers we talk to every week,” said Veronica Williams, a hospital-based peer recovery coach from United Medical Center. “The in-person meeting was great because we got to experience the facility first-hand and got to interact with the people who we are sending our patients to, to help them know what to expect when they arrive.”

Community-based coaches also reiterate the importance of community collaboration in supporting patients in finding long-term recovery.  “It was an amazing experience to meet the people at Unity, see their facility and discuss our roles in health care together. It really adds to the sense of community we are trying to establish as peers when we can get together to have a discussion on how to best serve our patient population and community at large!” said Thaddeus Wientzen, an outreach coach from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

A patient’s experience at a treatment center has a strong impact on their overall recovery and a negative experience can deter a patient from wanting to enter treatment again. Part of the role of the hospital-based peers is to motivate patients to enter treatment and that includes finding the right treatment provider for each individual. Face-to-face meetings and facility tours help the coaches determine the right place for each patient.

“Visiting Unity Health Care’s East of the River location was very insightful. I personally did not know all the different aspects of the center and learned that there were walk-in hours for MAT patients. I have always had an excellent experience whenever I have used Unity’s services for referrals,” said William Ellis, an outreach coach from Howard University Hospital.

Providing accessible community support is something Unity Health Care does every day by providing a full range of health and human services to meet community needs throughout the District. Nine Unity Health Care sites are fast-track providers for hospital referrals, working with peers to provide same-day or next-day appointments for substance use patients.

Unity Health Care’s Behavioral Health Program Manager Mary Wozniak shared that “meeting with the hospital peers was valuable to understand their perspectives and to reiterate the need for improved access to care with no barriers. When a patient is ready to access treatment, it’s best to connect them immediately, or you risk them returning to drug use. We hope that our open access model will help address some of that need.”

Note: All participants received a COVID-19 screening upon entry and followed CDC guidance on vaccination, mask wearing and social distancing.

L-R: Corrine Simons, William Ellis, Mary Wozniak, Dr. Andrew Robie, Ean Bond, Thaddeus Wientzen, Veronica Williams

#Substance Use Disorder

DCHA Patient Safety Summit

On Tuesday, June 20th, the District of Columbia Hospital Association held its inaugural Patient Safety Summit, Back to Basics: Creating a Community Culture of Safety at the Milken Institute School of Public Health on the campus of The George Washington University.  The event was an overwhelming success.  With over 150 registrants and a robust and content rich agenda, attendees were provided the opportunity to collaborate, share best practices, and network, highlighting their continued commitment to providing safe and high quality patient care here in the District.


“The DCHA’s inaugural Patient Safety Summit was a spectacular success and I was extremely pleased to see so many healthcare leaders joining forces to focus on patient safety and learn from one another how best to do address this critical issue.  This meeting laid the foundation for continued collaboration amongst the hospitals to improve healthcare in our great city. For me, one of the highlights of the summit was identifying and agreeing on the need for – and commitment to – data transparency. This transparency will mobilize us and help us reach our goal of making the District’s hospitals among the safest in the nation. As I look to the future, I eagerly welcome our new collaboration with the D.C. Health Department, we all share the same vision for the citizens of the District and are now on the road to turning that vision into reality.” Chip Davis, PhD, President & CEO, Sibley Memorial Hospital – Johns Hopkins Medicine; Chair, DCHA Board of Directors

During the program, DCHA presented Kathleen Chavanu Gorman, MSN, RN, FAAN, the Chief Operating Officer at Children’s National Health System, with the 2017 American Hospital Association Grassroots Advocacy Award for her dedication and commitment to the mission of hospitals on both the local and the national level.

Kathy Gorman Award Picture

Throughout the day, participants heard from national leaders, local officials, and hospital experts – including the majority of the District of Columbia hospital’s CEOs, who participated in a session entitled, “CEOs: Paving the Way for a Patient Safety Culture.”  The session featured two panels that focused on the topics of Leadership and Collaboration.

Leadership Panel CEO Panel on Collaboration from left: Mark Chastang, CEO, Saint Elizabeths Hospital; Jim Linhares, CEO, BridgePoint Hospital Capitol Hill; Darcy Burthay, MSN, RN, President & CEO, Providence Health System – Ascension Health; Kurt Newman, MD, President & CEO, Children’s National Health System; Jim Diegel, CEO, Howard University Hospital

Leadership Panel CEO Panel on Leadership from left: John Rockwood, President, MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital; Kimberly Russo, CEO, The George Washington University Hospital; Richard “Chip” David, PhD, Sibley Memorial Hospital – Johns Hopkins Medicine

“I was honored to serve on the CEO Leadership panel at DCHA’s first Patient Safety Summit which provided a valuable opportunity for healthcare leaders to collaborate on best practices in quality and safety,” said Kimberly Russo, Chief Executive Officer at The George Washington University Hospital. “Individuals across the DC region should have access to high-quality, safe healthcare no matter where they choose to receive it. By increasing transparency across organizations, we are able to work together to not only promote safety but ensure consistent, excellent medical care in the District of Columbia.”

A special thanks to those who presented at the Patient Safety Summit, including Dr. David Henderson of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center who presented on “The Changing Landscape of Patient Safety,” Charisse Coulombe, MS, MBA, CPHQ of the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) at the American Hospital Association who spoke on “The Path Forward for Patient Safety,” and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, MPH, the Director of the D.C. Department of Health, who spoke about, “The Intersection of Health Equity & Patient Safety and Quality.”

J. Bowens DCHA Patient Safety Summit

“While this event is just a first step in our collective quality journey, it was an impactful one. DCHA looks forward to continuing our work with our hospitals and their teams as we further our commitment to putting safe, high quality patient care first in the District of Columbia.” – Jacqueline D. Bowens, President & CEO, District of Columbia Hospital Association

The association already has plans underway for the next Patient Safety Summit, which they hope will take place in the early winter of 2018.

This live event was designated by The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences for a maximum of 5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits.  Those who attended the event have received an e-mail from GWU with information on how to claim those credits. 

DCHA would like to again express our gratitude for our Summit sponsors.  With almost unanimous sponsorship support from our member hospitals, their contributions and support provided the means for such a successful event.



Patient Safety Summit Sponsors:

Children’s National

The George Washington University Hospital

Howard University Hospital

MedStar Health

Providence Hospital

Sibley Memorial Hospital


Join The DC Hospitals In Supporting Those Affected By Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

In the wake of the destruction caused by both Hurricane Harvey and Irma, many of the District’s hospitals have expressed an interest in working collectively with the Association on relief efforts.  To this end, DCHA has created several avenues for DC hospital – and staff –  to support all of those who have been affected by these natural disasters.

Here’s How You Can Help!

  1. The DC Hospital Association has created a special Red Cross donation page for the District’s hospitals – and their staff – to pledge support or make a financial contribution. To make a donation to the Red Cross, please visit their website.
  2. DCHA is in the process of setting up an amazon contributions page where needed items – including diapers and water – can be purchased and sent directly to the affected areas.  DCHA will provide an update to our members once this amazon page is up and running – with instructions on how to make your purchases count toward the relief effort.
  3. Texas Hospital Association: All of us know, when disaster strikes, hospital employees work around the clock to serve emergency response efforts.  To help those employees and their families who were affected by Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Hospital Association has created a Hospital Employee Assistance Fund. Money donated to this fund will go to Texas hospital employees whose lives have been impacted by the devastating destruction caused by the hurricane.
    To make a donation to this employee assistance fund, please visit their website.
  4. Florida Hospital Association: In that same effort, the Florida Hospital Association has set up their own employee assistance fund for those Florida hospital employees whose lives have been impacted by the destruction of Hurricane Irma.  All contributions made will go directly to their member hospitals to be distributed to hospital employees – at no administrative cost.

To make a donation to FHA’s hospital employee assistance fund, visit this link.

We ask that you share these opportunities through your various channels of communication, and if further information is required, please contact Emma Jellen – (202)289-4929.


PRESS RELEASE: DCHA Releases 2016 Hospital Utilization Indicators Report

Today, the District of Columbia Hospital Association released their 2016 Hospital Utilization Indicators Report.  This report provides comparative data on health care facility utilization in the District of Columbia, data is self-reported by the individual facilities in the Monthly Utilization Survey managed by the Association.  Data from the 2016 report does not include the D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center or the HSC Pediatric Center.

2016 Utilization Indicators Trends:

  • Inpatient Admissions have decreased slightly to 128,463 down approximately 0.4%, compared to the 2015 data.
  • Newborn Deliveries increased to 14,178 up approximately 1.7%.
  • Rehabilitation Admissions increased to 2,451, approximately 4.2%.
  • Emergency Department visits decreased by approximately 3% to 508,729.
  • Ambulatory Surgeries at DC Hospitals increased to 71,353, or 2%
  • Neonatal Admissions increased to 3,292 up approximately 1.2%.
  • Total Patient Days remained flat at 1,033,019 days.

Click here to access the District of Columbia Hospital Association’s Utilization Indicators for 2016.



DCHA Welcomes New Chair of Board of Directors, Kimberly Russo, MS, The George Washington University Hospital

Kimberly Russo

On November 9th, the District of Columbia Hospital Association’s Board of Directors elected Kimberly Russo, MS, Chief Executive Officer of The George Washington University Hospital as Chair of the Board, effective January 1, 2018. Ms. Russo has been in her role as CEO of The GWU hospital since May 2016, prior to which, she served as Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Russo has extensive clinical and operational experience, and among her many accolades, was recognized in 2010 as one of The Washington Business Journal’s 2016 “Playmakers,” and named an honoree of “Women Who Mean Business.”

“I am happy to welcome Kim as our next Board Chair. Even prior to stepping into her role as CEO, Kim was an active member at DCHA meetings, and as a member of the Board she has enthusiastically taken on several leadership roles, serving on the Executive Committee, as well as Co-Chairing DCHA’s Quality Collaborative. In her leadership roles, Kim has been integral to the development of the Association’s new strategic framework, and on behalf of DCHA, I look forward to working with Ms. Russo as we continue to advance health care in the District of Columbia.” Jacqueline D. Bowens, President & CEO, DCHA

“I am honored to serve as the new Chair of DCHA’s Board of Directors as we continue to facilitate a unifying voice for hospitals and health systems across the district,” says Kimberly Russo, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of GWU Hospital. “I look forward to collaborating with the Board, DC hospital leadership and the Association in the ongoing advancement of healthcare services for the DC community.”

In December, DCHA recognized the contributions of its outgoing Chair, Richard “Chip” Davis, PhD, President and CEO of Sibley Memorial Hospital – Johns Hopkins Medicine who steps into the role of Immediate Past Chair.“I would like to thank Dr. Davis for his 2-years of service as Chairman of the DCHA Board of Directors,” said Ms. Bowens. “His contributions have been vital in leading the Association through our recent transition and we are grateful for his leadership and dedication.”

DCHA is also happy to welcome the entire 2018 slate of officers:

  • Chair: Kimberly Russo, MS, The George Washington University Hospital
  • Chair-Elect: John Sullivan, MedStar Washington Hospital Center
  • Secretary: Kevin Chavez, BridgePoint Hospital National Harbor
  • Treasurer: James Diegel, Howard University Hospital
  • Immediate Past Chair: Richard “Chip” Davis, PhD, Sibley Memorial Hospital – Johns Hopkins Medicine


DCHA Now Participating in Sugary Beverage Healthier Hospitals Initiative with DOH

Chronic diseases are a serious problem for District of Columbia residents and health care providers.  With residents’ rates of obesity and diabetes at a critical high (Obesity: Adults 22%, High School Students 15%, Diabetes: 8.5%, At-Risk for Diabetes 6.55%), the linkage between sugar consumption and chronic disease can no longer be ignored.  Reduction and elimination of sugary beverages, as well as public education on healthier dietary options, is an imperative to moving the needle on a healthier community.

To that end, DCHA has been working with the DC Department of Health (DOH) on an initiative to reduce the availability of sugary beverages, and promote healthier options within the District’s hospitals.  Through the program, DCHA will be asking the District’s hospitals to commit to:

  • Making healthy changes to vending machines, cafeterias, meetings, events, and other sources of sugary beverages in the workplace.
  • Identifying and utilizing vendors, caterers, and other food providers that offer healthier beverage choices.
  • Having leadership support and model reduction of sugary beverages in the facility.
  • Educating employees about health consumption and promotion of healthier alternatives.
  • Reducing, and ultimately eliminating, sugar-sweetened beverages.

Sibley Memorial Hospital, part of Johns Hopkins Medicine, was the first hospital in the District to create and implement a reduction and elimination program, but several others are not far behind.  For those interested and able, DCHA plans to assist our members on implementation of sugary beverage reduction programs at their facility.  In doing our part, the Association has also eliminated the availability of sugary-beverages to staff and meeting attendees in our office.

DCHA will be updating our website to include information on the sugary beverage healthier hospitals initiative, including tools and resources for your facility.

You can follow DCHA’s Kick the Can campaign by searching #RethinkYourDrink on twitter.


District of Columbia Association’s Statement on Providence Health System’s Announcement

Washington, DC – July 25, 2018 – Today, the District of Columbia Hospital Association (DCHA) released a statement on Providence Health System’s announcement regarding their pending service changes.

“Hospitals and health systems across the country have been adapting to the future delivery of health care and the District’s hospitals have not been immune from these changes,” said Jacqueline D. Bowens, President & CEO of the District of Columbia Hospital Association. “As the industry shifts toward a population health focus, health systems continue to identify ways to strengthen collaborations between acute care and community-based services, to meet people where they are and ultimately improve health outcomes”.

The Association is pleased that Providence, while making a transition out of acute care, remains fully dedicated to the residents of the District of Columbia. This new community-focused model represents a unique opportunity for Providence and the District’s community of hospitals to work in concert to transform health delivery —- keeping the patient at the center of everything we do.

DCHA will be working with all our members, including Providence, to engage key stakeholders both inside and outside the hospital industry to ensure that District residents continue to have access to high-quality health services ranging from acute care to primary care.


DCHA Emergency Management Committee Standardizes Series of Emergency Codes Across the District’s Hospitals

Emergency codes are important announcements to ensure facilities operate in accordance with their mission and to the best of their capabilities. The Department of Homeland Security released a report in 2008 citing the importance of using standardized plain language codes. The report writes, “The use of plain language (clear text) in emergency management and incident response is a matter of public safety, especially the safety of emergency management/response personnel and those affected by the incident. It is critical that all those involved with an incident know and use commonly established operational structures, terminology, policies and procedures. This will facilitate interoperability across agencies, organizations, jurisdictions and disciplines.” The guidelines for standardized emergency codes have also been promoted by The Joint Commission for events or threats that can inflict harm on hospital staff, patients and visitors.

The District of Columbia Hospital Association’s (DCHA) hospital leaders see the value in creating uniform systems that enable their staff to be adequately informed during an emergency as well as equipping visitors with adequate information to protect themselves. This was important for the District’s hospitals as many of our staff are employed by multiple hospitals and often work between facilities. The DCHA Emergency Management Committee (EMC) completed a standardization initiative to enhance the emergency preparedness and response efforts for District hospitals’ staff, the patients they serve, and the communities they protect.

Leveraging the collective expertise, the EMC reviewed all member hospital codes for a series of emergency events/alerts. The Committee agreed to use a combination of color and plain language following national trends and best practices. It was further determined the minimum requirement for implementation would be to standardize the nomenclature (with a focus on plain language) and definition for the select emergency codes across the hospitals. Each facility would be given the flexibility to designate their color code for the specific emergency as they deemed appropriate.


District of Columbia Hospital Association’s Statement on the Partnership Announcement for the New Saint Elizabeths’ East Acute-Care Hospital

Washington, DC – August 10, 2018 – The District of Columbia Hospital Association continues to support the efforts of the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Health to address the delivery of health services to all District residents, and the immediate need to improve access to comprehensive health services for residents of Wards 7 and 8.

Last October, DCHA released a position paper entitled: Health Care Services on the District’s East End: A Vision for Access and Sustainability. In that paper, we laid out our strategy for improving health care in the Eastern side of the city. DCHA and its members continue to support an East End Health Care strategy that includes:

• An integrated and sustainable health care system that includes a right-sized acute care facility, other appropriate services and leverages existing health care partners and resources.
• Appropriate primary, specialty, diagnostic, emergency, acute and post-acute care services based on the current and future needs of the community and market dynamics.
• Education and training for future health care professionals.
• Recognition of the need and inclusion of appropriate resources to address the social determinants of health that create barriers to achieving better health outcomes.

This announcement represents the first step towards establishing a community-wide infrastructure that integrates multiple levels of health care delivery — including preventive, appropriate specialty and post-acute care. DCHA continues to be a committed partner with the District to ensure any investment will be sustainable, while addressing the health care of all residents, particularly those in Wards 7 & 8.


A copy of Health Care Services on the District’s East End: A Vision for Access and Sustainability can be found here.


DCHA Celebrates and Salutes Quality Programs in D.C. Hospitals and Health Care

2018 marks 40 years of the District of Columbia Hospital Association’s (DCHA) collaboration with members on important issues facing D.C. hospitals and the community. This past year, D.C. hospitals adopted a resolution of commitment to foster a culture of quality and patient safety that drives positive health outcomes for patients, staff and the community. DCHA is proud to be involved in facilitating collaborative actions and convening community stakeholders to drive improvement across the District of Columbia and the region.

We celebrate the work of our members and the broader D.C. health care community in improving patient safety and health care quality through innovative practices that disrupt the status quo. The works and successes presented in the Quality Showcase publication represent the dedication of D.C. health care leaders to continuously strive toward better care, better experiences, and better outcomes for those we serve.

The Quality Showcase publication features 17 best practices from D.C. hospitals and the health care community.

© 2021. District of Columbia Hospital Association.