Washington Hospital Center and Georgetown University Hospital will combine kidney transplant programs in 2011, according to an inside source. This would leave only two transplant centers in the Washington, D.C. region, WHC-Georgetown, and Inova Fairfax Hospital.* The move is expected to result in less choice for kidney transplant recipients, and possibly a reduction in quality.
In the Baltimore area, two hospitals perform kidney transplants, Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area (5.4 million people) has twice as many residents as the Baltimore metropolitan area.
WHC is known for excellent surgeons, but the admistrative structure and customer service have been heavily criticized. WHC has also used inconsistent criteria for keeping patients on the kidney waiting list and is significantly behind other transplant centers in supporting electronic means to search for kidney donors. The staff at WHC has also been accused of being unresponsive.
One patient called WHC’s patient advocate office more than 25 times with no resolution other than being referred back to the transplant office that was originally complained about.
The move is part of a recent trend in hospital consolidations. Johns Hopkins recently merged with Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and Sibley Hospital in Washington.
*The Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington perform a small number of kidney transplants.