Letter to the Editor: GWU Hospital helipad would duplicate existing services

George Washington University Hospital is proposing to install a helipad at the building's southwest corner, near the corner of 24th and I streets NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2017)

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the request by George Washington University Hospital to install a helipad.

My primary concern is service redundancy. MedStar Washington Hospital Center has an existing helipad 3.5 miles from George Washington University. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (2.3 miles away) has received zoning and neighborhood approval to build a 477,000-square-foot medical/surgical pavilion that will house 156 private patient rooms, a new emergency department, larger operating rooms and a rooftop helipad with direct access to the emergency room. Given the proximity of these facilities, I do not believe a helipad at George Washington University Hospital is warranted.

These types of significant and expensive redundancies in our U.S. health industry are among the main drivers for the continuing escalation in the cost of our health care. I strongly urge Universal Health Services Inc. and George Washington University to rescind their request for their own helipad. Otherwise, the D.C. Council has an obligation to help regulate the overall cost of health care by not changing existing laws to enable such redundant services.

Safety is also a concern given that Foggy Bottom area is already congested with Reagan National Airport aircraft, White House helicopters and other governmental air traffic. The population density of Foggy Bottom is too great to risk any accident that may occur.

I urge the Foggy Bottom Association, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, the D.C. Council and other decision-makers to reject George Washington University Hospital’s request for a helipad.

John George, Foggy Bottom