Divine Word Missionaries lend their voices to keeping hospital open


By Theresa Carson

After the largest nonprofit health system in the United States announced intentions to close Washington, D.C.’s Providence Hospital, three Divine Word Missionaries and other Catholic leaders urged the corporation to reconsider.

Providence Hospital—which is owned by Ascension and is the most prominent healthcare facility in the eastern part of the city—predominantly serves people of color, the elderly and low-income households.

“Keeping Providence Hospital open is important because it is one of the few hospitals that serves the needs of the poor in the area,” said Divine Word Brother Brian McLauchlin, coordinator for justice, peace and the integrity of creation for the Society of the Divine Word Chicago Province.

He, along with Divine Word Fathers George Kintiba and Phelim Jordan, signed the petition in hopes that Ascension will reevaluate the decision. According to the petition, 80 percent of Province Hospital patients rely on Medicaid or Medicare.

“When the Daughters of Charity ran the hospital, their mission was to see to the health care needs of people living in poverty. Unfortunately, the sisters had to give up the hospital and it subsequently came under the care of Ascension,” Brother Brian said.

“If Providence closes, it will place a huge burden on United Medical Center. People living in poverty become the victims. Closing Providence Hospital will create a healthcare desert in eastern Washington, D.C.”

National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the country, generated the petition and cited concern for African-American expectant mothers and people in need of emergency care.
The group reported that pregnant African-American women in Washington, D.C., are dying at a rate that is the highest in the nation. They also state that the infant mortality rate in southeast D.C.’s Ward 8 is more than double the national average at 15 deaths per 1,000 live births.

National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the country, generated the petition, whose signees include representatives of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Pax Christi USA.

According to Ascension’s financial statements for fiscal year 2018, the nonprofit corporation reported $2.1 billion in profit last year.

To read the full statement, go to:


Back to news