David Catania (former chair of the council committee on health, “savior-of-Black-health,” the lawyer who helped close DC General, and vehemently anti tort reform) now co-chairs the mayor’s health equity committee. This is a mind-boggling paradox for medical providers and adds insult to injury in the 2 decades of silent Black private physician flight from DC. Such spin parallels the mayor’s “magical thinking” attempted high jacking yesterday of “BLACK LIVES MATTER” by painting it on the street ONLY when it was politically expedient! The DC leadership of the “real” Black Lives Matter movement countered by defacing the DC flag and painting DEFUND THE POLICE = BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Similarly, as African Americans died in record numbers in DC from opioid/fentanyl overdoses, the Bowser Administration refused to implement life-saving strategies (overdose transition to buprenorphine in the ED, MAT in jails, Narcan use by DCPD, and an end to prior authorizations for buprenorphine). Following a December 2018 Washington Post expose they published LIVE.LONG.DC and promised to cut overdoses in half by 2020. Instead of reducing opioid overdoses, augmented by millions in federal grants, 2019 ended the year matching 2017’s record 281 overdose deaths (average 23/month). Moreover, thru February 2020 (pre-COVID) that monthly average skyrocketed to 31. Most frightening, however, are the projections from the CME beginning with COVID in March averaging 44/ month thru the end of April with an associated astounding increase in the un-domiciled (homeless) and 60-69 age group.

Thirdly, the Administration has apparently completed a “deal” with Universal Health Systems for a new hospital that makes business sense without any medical logic based on the assessed NEEDS of the community. Using the same formula that dissuades high-end retail food chains, restaurants, and other businesses from Black neighborhoods, the mayor and current council are perusing a neighborhood hospital with 2nd class services, BY DESIGN, for their highest need constituents. They liberally sprinkle sophisticated terms like the “social determinants of health,” then conveniently forget to follow that mandate for (1) easy access to high-quality specialty services (close to home) and the corollary issue of (2) transportation as major factors in consummating consistent compliance in specialty care, follow up, and outcomes. One cannot move to ”value-based payments” without first building a value-based infrastructure that supports both patients and providers. The UMS (money) deal is just another sleight-of-hand, short-term pacifier designed for long-term medical failure ….only To be recognized years later after most of the current signers have moved on or long since retired.

The “real” Black Lives Matter leadership refused to remain silent on the Bowser Administration’s fake leadership and complicit support of past police brutality. The medical community must do likewise: Our EXPERTISE and SILENCE IS both SINFUL and SHAMEFUL… because our people are dying!

Like hand-me-down books and chitlins… the health disparity BS drumbeat goes on… without any true and thoughtful salvation!
If “Black Lives (REALLY) Mattered” this poorly structured hospital deal would have, likewise, been DEAD ON ARRIVAL!!

Edwin C. Chapman, MD