1994 – Present

"Patient First":
A Tradition of Caring

During the 1990s, MedStar Washington Hospital Center reaffirmed its longstanding emphasis on patient care with the launch of a new Patient First program.

"The simple, but critically important Patient First slogan [helps] to focus all 5,000 employees throughout the MedStar Washington Hospital Center on what is really important; on what we should be thinking about at all times; and to help us all in those trying and complicated moments to solve problems from a patient's perspective. While there is absolutely no substitute for quality clinical services, they must be provided in a friendly environment. Combining high-tech and high-touch is critical."

Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, President
Washington Hospital Center (1990-2000)


  • In the mid-1990s, the Hospital Center's mission statement is updated to incorporate the Patient First campaign recently launched by President Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE. The Patient First concept reflects the hospital's core mission to provide excellent clinical care to all who enter its doors.
  • Washington Cancer Center introduces a new treatment for patients with early stage prostate cancer: Ultrasound-Guided Radioactive Seed Implantation. The use of ultrasound helps physicians to position the low-dose radioactive seeds with great accuracy-a major improvement over older methods.
  • Washington Cancer Institute offers the area's only stereotactic radiotherapy for treatment of brain tumors. New programs introduced at The Cancer Institute this year include a Thoracic Oncology Center to treat tumors of the lung, esophagus, trachea, heart and chest wall. The Cancer Institute's long-term goal is to create interdisciplinary teams to treat all of the major cancer types.
  • The Medlantic Research Institute at the Hospital Center opens the Medlantic Organ Preservation Lab.
  • Washington Hospital Center-Physician Hospital Organization (Washington Hospital Center-PHO) is incorporated. Within a year, the new group has 450 member physicians and is negotiating contracts with several managed care providers to supply physician and hospital services to their members.
  • In keeping with the Hospital Center's public health mission, the Cancer Institute opens a cancer prevention and screening clinic for low-income patients, the precursor to what will become the Cancer Preventorium under the direction of Elmer Huerta, MD, a cancer prevention specialist. The Preventorium eventually serves as the model for the federal Patient Navigator, Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention Act of 2004.
  • An Office of Continuing Medical Education is established at the Hospital Center to ensure that medical staff has access to training in the latest techniques in their fields.
  • The Community Relations Department begins the Youth Mentoring Program, pairing Hospital Center employees with young residents of the area surrounding the hospital.
  • In September 1994, the Hospital Center launches a Home Care Program for cancer patients in coordination with the District's MedStar Health Home Care, Inc. The Hospital Center's annual report notes: "Typically, home care staff assess toxicities from chemotherapy and coordinate pain management. In case after case, our visiting nurses are our eyes and ears in the community."


  • On September 3, physicians perform the hospital's 100th heart transplant. The procedure on the 50-year-old patient lasts barely more than an hour, one-third the time required for the first transplant eight years earlier. The leader in heart transplants in the metro area, Washington Heart's surgical team now includes 10 surgeons and two transplant specialists.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of 40 clinical centers selected to participate in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a major 15-year national research study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). One of the largest prevention studies of its kind, the WHI addresses the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. Clinical trials include hormone therapy, dietary modification, and calcium and Vitamin D supplementation. Observational studies track the lifestyles and risk factors of more than 93,000 American women. Barbara V. Howard, PhD, of the MedStar Research Institute is appointed a Principal Investigator.
  • Ground is broken in September for a second Physicians Office Building on the Hospital Center campus. By spring, the building is fully leased. Almost one-third of the Hospital Center's patients are referrals from physicians leasing space in the original Physicians Office Building, built in 1967.
  • The Emergency Medicine Department at the Hospital Center undergoes a major transformation to update its patient flow, layout and administrative procedures. Mark Smith, MD, is recruited to oversee the reorganization. Several new emergency medicine physicians and are hired, together with a new head nurse. Within 18 months, patient satisfaction rates soar. By 1997, Emergency Department visits hit a record 50,000.
  • Washington Heart's cath labs implant more than 2,000 stents annually to relieve cardiac blockages. Stents are tiny, mesh-like tubes that work like miniature scaffolds when inserted into narrowed coronary arteries to keep them open after angioplasty.
  • Cardiac physicians at the Hospital Center embrace the latest ultrasound imaging-or external echocardiography-to pinpoint artery blockages. In the non-invasive procedure, ultrasound waves are emitted from the tip of a catheter to create a highly precise image of the interior of the artery, permitting accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment.
  • Washington Heart is selected for trials of a new battery-driven upgrade of an LVAD (left ventricular assist device). Earlier generations of LVADs required patients to be hooked up to a monitor, thereby limiting their mobility. The new LVADs free patients to move around.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center heart surgeons perform the area's first TMLR (transmyocardial laser revascularization) procedure on a local woman in her 30s suffering from severe angina (heart pain). Surgeons use a laser to create tiny channels in the heart muscle to receive blood and oxygen, relieving heart pain. Within a year, 40 additional TMLRs are performed at the Hospital Center.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center begins to use the Internet to improve hospital-wide communications, enhance patient care and increase access to information.
  • The Hospital Center launches the first Service Excellence Program, based on the 5 C's: Commitment, Communication, Collaboration, Celebration and Culture.
  • The medical library establishes the Quality Resource Center to support quality improvement initiatives in education, research and communication.
  • By now, there are more than 600 Health Maintenance Organizations-or HMOs-in the country, together enrolling about 65 million members, or close to one-fourth of U.S. population. These organizations had been a minor phenomenon until the 1970s when politicians and interest groups began a campaign to reform the nation's health care system. At issue were cost containment, coverage for the uninsured, access to services for poor and minorities, consumer rights, efficient delivery systems, and more.
  • While other area hospitals struggle, the Hospital Center appears to be holding steady in the face of major change. Notes CenterLine : "The Hospital Center has kept pace with the progressive shift from commercial to managed care, resulting in 6 percent growth of hospital admissions during the past five years. We have contracts with more than 20 managed care plans, giving us a critical position in the provider network hierarchy."


  • In June, MedStar Washington Hospital Center invites cardiac surgeon Frederico Benetti, MD, to demonstrate his novel MIDCAB (Minimally Invasive Direct Coronary Artery Bypass) procedure. The hour-long surgery involves making a small, five-inch incision, and does not require stopping the patient's heart during the operation-a first. The procedure does not entail breaking the sternum (breastbone), a major advantage over traditional bypass surgery. Washington Heart surgeons immediately adopt the new method and perform several of their own. The Hospital Center quickly establishes itself as a leader in beating heart surgery and begins teaching the technique to cardiac surgeons around the world.
  • The Hospital Center's new Women's and Infants' Services wing opens. Located on the fifth floor of the North Addition, the state-of-the-art facility includes 12 labor/delivery/recovery rooms, four assessment/observations rooms, and three operating rooms. Services include prenatal care; childbirth and breastfeeding classes; classes for siblings; classes in infant safety; and expanded gynecological services, including oncology. A full-time perinatologist is on staff for high-risk pregnancies. The Hospital Center delivers approximately 3,000 babies each year.
  • The Pavilion, the Hospital Center's new deluxe suites unit, offers 12 four-star hotel-quality accommodations to patients who choose to pay for the luxury. Each suite offers two phones; fax and PC access; a 19-inch color TV and VCR; a sleep sofa for family; and a kitchenette with a well-stocked refrigerator and microwave. Room service is available 24 hours a day, including gourmet meals if approved by the physician.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center launches the Listen to Your Heart: Women at Risk campaign, one of the first outreach initiatives in the country designed to increase women's awareness of the gender differences in cardiac symptoms and treatment. The launch was the lead story on " ABC World News Tonight."
  • Washington Cancer Institute's patient education and resource center opens to offer a consolidated and comprehensive source of information and support.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center's parent company Medlantic Healthcare Group forms a regional health care partnership with Baltimore-based Helix Health. The new venture is named BWHealth.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center achieves a score of 96, the hospital's highest score ever, from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. "Achieving this level required hard work from every one of our nearly 5,000 employees and more than 1,300 members of the medical and dental staff," says President Ken Samet, FACHE.
  • Washington Cancer Institute diagnoses and treats more cases of cancer than any other hospital in the metropolitan area. Institute staff handles more than 61,000 outpatient visits, many of which involve innovative treatments and services such as peripheral blood cell transplantation and coagulation diagnosis and consultation.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center joins PhyMatrix to offer regional cancer care. The Oncoplex joint venture is designed to bring ambulatory infusion services and radiation therapy to patients through a network of community and hospital-based clinic and radiation therapy centers in the District; Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George's, Calvert and St. Mary's counties; and other future locations.
  • On June 1, 1996, Washington Cancer Institute receives a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to establish the District's first Clinical Community Oncology Program. As of 1996, The Cancer Institute is involved in 75 studies run by the NCI.
  • Washington Heart celebrates its 10th anniversary. Physicians perform 55,000 electrocardiograms, 6,000 echocardiograms, a dozen heart transplants and more than 2,000 open-heart surgeries each year. The cardiac program is the fifth largest in the country and attracts patients and physicians from around the world. Its cath labs consistently rank among the busiest in the country, carrying out more than 13,000 procedures annually. "Washington Heart surgeons continue to be on the forefront of new technologies in the minimally invasive arena, heart-reduction techniques, and management of heart failure through heart-assist devices," notes CenterLine .
  • A revolutionary new software program debuts at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, created by an in-house team of doctors and developers. The Insight program integrates complex patient information from a variety of sources to supply physicians and other Hospital Center staff a multi-layered, comprehensive picture in one or two mouse clicks. In 2006, the renamed Azyxxi software will be purchased by Microsoft.


  • The new North Tower of the Physicians Office Building opens. The building includes hospitality suites and a new parking garage.
  • Washington National Eye Center celebrates its 100th anniversary. WNEC has been in continuous operation since the founding of Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat in 1897. Its much-revered ophthalmology residency program-founded in 1905-is one of the oldest in the nation. The Eye Center also runs a refractive eye surgery center off-site that is the second busiest in the country.
  • In January, MedStar Washington Hospital Center negotiates a major comprehensive partnership with Kaiser Permanente. With 500,000 members, Kaiser is one of the largest managed care plans in the region. Under the agreement, the Hospital Center becomes one of Kaiser's three principal full-service hospital providers in the Washington area. "We can expect to see incremental growth of more than 8,000 patient days in the year ahead from this exciting new partnership," says President Ken Samet, FACHE.
  • The Hospital Center and the MedStar Health Home Care, Inc., mark a 10-year partnership. Since merging with the Hospital Center in 1987, the MedStar Health Home Care has been providing critical support services to patients after they leave the hospital. Services include home visits, therapy, nutrition, pain management and overall care coordination. In a sign of the times, visiting nurses carry laptops as essential equipment on their rounds.
  • Washington Cancer Institute celebrates its fifth anniversary by launching several new programs, including an innovative stem cell transplant initiative, the integrated case management program to help patients adjust to the demands of cancer treatment, comprehensive patient support services, and a community outreach campaign for colorectal cancer-the third leading cause of cancer deaths among Americans.
  • The Hospital Center's continuing medical education program receives national accreditation, allowing the hospital to sponsor and promote national conferences.
  • The Emergency Medicine Department treats more than 50,000 patients this year-a new record.


  • The Hospital Center marks its 40th anniversary. The hospital employs 5,300 and has 1,450 members on its medical and dental staffs. Total inpatient procedures exceed 40,000 for the year; total outpatient procedures number close to 200,000.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center opens the Cardiovascular Training and Education Center (CTEC), a state-of-the-art satellite telecommunications facility that links physicians and staff to other medical entities performing cardiovascular procedures around the world.
  • On May 7, the Medlantic and Helix Health boards of directors unanimously vote to merge to create the largest health care provider in the mid-Atlantic region. The new entity initially takes the name Helix/Medlantic (eventually renamed MedStar Health.) The combined company encompasses the well-populated and booming Baltimore-Washington corridor.
  • Washington Cancer Institute transplants the first 10 cases in its peripheral stem cell program.
  • MedStar celebrates 20,000 accident-free flights.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center launches the Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting- TAPP-a new community outreach program designed to help pregnant teens handle motherhood while reducing the likelihood of unintended subsequent pregnancies. The program's early successes include a major increase in the use of contraceptives by its high-risk clients.
  • The Hospital Center offers 907 beds, staffed by 5,311 employees. Its heart program completes 13,780 catheterizations, 9 heart transplants, and 2,588 open-heart surgeries this year. Total inpatients number 41,266. Total outpatient procedures exceed 192,000.
  • In an interview in The Washington Post , MedStar Washington Hospital Center President Ken Samet, FACHE underscores the depth and breadth of the hospital's teaching program. " The Hospital Center trains over 225 residents and fellows in a comprehensive array of medical specialties. Our teaching programs are a mixture of integrated programs with some of the area's universities, as well as a number of stand-alone training programs based at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The Hospital Center treated over 40,000 inpatients last year. This is significantly larger than any of the other university hospitals and thus makes the Hospital Center a fabulous training site. In fact, across the country, many of the strongest teaching hospitals are not university-based hospitals."
  • District Mayor Marion Barry and District Council Chair Linda Cropp visit MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Washington Cancer Institute staff to express their support and condolences after a man entered the Cancer Institute and opened fire, killing one patient (his intended target) and injuring five others: two employees, two patients and one volunteer.


  • On February 1, MedStar Washington Hospital Center's parent company takes the name MedStar Health.
  • Washington Cancer Institute opens its state-of-the-art Breast Imaging Center and participates in the STAR trial, a breast cancer prevention clinical study of tamoxifen and raloxifene. The Institute also establishes its Lung Cancer Center.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center begins planning ER One , an initiative to design and demonstrate the concepts, features and specifications for a new type of all-risks ready emergency care facility, one optimized to manage the medical consequences of terrorism and emerging illness. ER One will provide emergency medical care during a crisis situation (i.e. terrorist attacks or epidemics) and will function as the hospital's emergency department during daily operations.
  • The Hospital Center prepares for Y2K with water trucks, flashlights for all, 12-hour shifts, and the installation of special phones. The transition into January 1, 2000, turns out to be uneventful.
  • In March, the Hospital Center opens a small two-bed Sleep Center to diagnose and treat patients with sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep disorders.
  • In December, the Hospital Center launches the Washington Continence Center and Institute for Pelvic Floor Disorders. With proper medical help, about 80 percent of all urinary and bowel problems can be alleviated.
  • George Taler, MD, becomes the new director of Long-Term Care and launches the Medical House Call Program to serve the community's frail elderly. The program eventually becomes a national model for providing home-based care designed to maintain the elderly in their own surroundings rather than move to a nursing home.


  • Michael H. Covert becomes president of MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE is promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of MedStar Health. Samet, FACHE will later be named president of MedStar Health in 2002 and president and chief executive officer of MedStar Health in 2008.
  • Approximately half of the heart bypass surgeries at the Hospital Center are done "off pump"-without the support of traditional heart-lung machinery. According to cardiac surgeon Paul Corso, MD, "the Hospital Center does more beating heart surgery, and a higher percentage of beating heart surgery, than any hospital in the world."
  • Washington Heart begins to experiment with robotic surgery techniques using computer models. When combined with imaging technology, robotic methods promise to give surgeons a new generation of highly precise tools.
  • The Hospital Center's cardiac and cardiac surgery, hormonal disorders and neurology and neurosurgery programs are ranked among the best in the United States in a survey by U.S. News & World Report .
  • On September 21, all registered nurses at the Hospital Center go on strike for 47 days. It is the first strike at the region's largest medical facility since 1978, when nurses walked out for 31 days. Filling in for the duration are 625 replacement workers from across the country and 250 nurse managers who return to direct patient care. In spite of the scale of the strike, full, uninterrupted clinical services are maintained. In November, the nurses, hospital management and federal mediators achieve a tentative contract to end the walkout. According to a local survey, public opinion supported the Hospital Center during this period and admissions remained steady. More than 300 nurses left to take jobs elsewhere during the strike. The Hospital Center required several years to recover financially from the high costs of replacing the nurses with contract labor while recruiting hundreds of new permanent nurses.
  • The Hospital Center remains one of the busiest transplantation venues on the East Coast, offering specialties in kidney, pancreas and heart. In 2000, surgeons at the Hospital Center perform 102 kidney transplants and eight kidney/pancreas transplants. Outcomes for kidney transplants at the Hospital Center consistently exceed the national average.
  • Patients turn to the Hospital Center's Hearing and Speech Technology Center for high-tech therapy and equipment. Among the offerings are a computerized speech lab and custom fittings for digital hearing aids.
  • The Hospital Center establishes a separate electrophysiology (EP) lab for implantation of pacemakers, defibrillators and implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). The new lab has four procedure rooms and one holding area.
  • Washington Cancer Institute is the only facility in the Washington metropolitan area to use photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat obstructions caused by bronchial or esophageal cancer. PDT combines a photosensitizing drug injected into the blood stream with applications of a light of a certain wavelength to produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells. Drug and light dosages are determined by the area under treatment.
  • Washington Cancer Institute opens the region's only cryosurgical procedure center, specializing in application of extreme cold to freeze and kill the abnormal cells of prostate, liver and bone cancer. The technique is less costly and has fewer side effects than traditional treatment, allowing patients to recover faster.
  • Washington Cancer Institute is one of the first cancer programs in the area to offer a three-dimensional computer simulation system to target and treat cancers with radiation.
  • The Melanoma Center at The Cancer Institute tests a new technology called "mole mapping" to diagnose melanoma at an earlier stage and avoid certain types of biopsies.
  • A Digestive Disease Center is launched to target four areas: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis; liver disease; gastrointestinal motility; and pancreatic and hepatobiliary disease. Robert Burakoff, MD, is appointed chief.
  • The Hospital Center purchases a EC-135, a single pilot instrument flight rules (SPIFR) helicopter, the first SPIFR-certified EC-135 to operate in the United States. The aircraft is able to fly in inclement weather, using GPS technology for more accurate maneuvering. The aircraft's three-hour fuel capacity also allows for longer flights.
  • MedSTAR Transport becomes the clearinghouse for referrals, flight operations and coordinating ambulances for MedStar Washington Hospital Center. This year MedSTAR Transport handles 1,700 patients.
  • The Hospital Center employs 5,579 and has a combined medical and dental staff of 1,534. Total inpatient surgeries for the year exceed 14,500. Visits to the Emergency Medicine Department number close to 57,000 for the year. Total outpatient procedures exceed the quarter-million mark (259,981). MedSTAR Trauma Unit visits number 2,785.
  • In February, MedStar Washington Hospital Center's parent company MedStar Health and Georgetown University Hospital form a clinical partnership.


  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of three MedStar Health hospitals ranked among the best in the nation in "America's Best Hospitals," an annual hospital survey by U.S. News & World Report . Among the programs cited are the cardiac and cardiac surgery, cancer, ear, nose and throat, hormonal disorders, neurology and neurosurgery and urology programs.
  • On September 11, MedStar Washington Hospital Center calls a Code Orange for mass casualty readiness as it prepares to receive the injured from the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Dispatched within minutes of the incident, MedSTAR helicopters are among the first medevac helicopters to arrive at the scene. The Burn Center cares for 10 victims of the attack, nine of whom survive, some burned over 70 percent of their bodies. Burn Center Director Marion Jordan, MD, and colleague James Jeng, MD, staff two operating rooms virtually around the clock, performing 23 surgeries within 96 hours of the attack. To supply much-needed skin grafts, staff at a Texas hospital pack 70 square feet of cadaver skin into Styrofoam coolers with dry ice and drive to the nation's capital in less than 24 hours. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush come to MedStar Washington Hospital Center on September 13 to visit the injured and their families. Their visit is carried on newscasts world-wide. One patient of the Pentagon attack dies within a week from inhaling pure jet fuel. Another patient endures more than 40 surgeries and the loss of her fingers. The other Pentagon victims eventually return home.
  • The MedStar Diabetes Institute earns a Certificate of Recognition from the American Diabetes Association, formal affirmation that its educational programs meet strict national guidelines.
  • During September and October, an unknown terrorist mails several anthrax-laced letters to unsuspecting recipients in the Eastern United States, including at least two U.S. Senators. Among those affected by the letters are workers at a Washington, DC, postal facility near the Hospital Center. Between October 20 and December 11, the Hospital Center's Emergency Medicine Department evaluates 400 potential anthrax cases, including 30 admitted patients. Aided by internally-developed Insight software (later renamed Azyxxi), doctors at the Hospital Center are able to accurately track and manage the hundreds of patients who exhibit possible anthrax symptoms.
  • On March 12, a new type of heart surgery using a carbon dioxide laser makes its international debut at the Hospital Center. The 57-year-old patient in the case recovers quickly and is discharged just four days later.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center acquires a cardiac magnetic resonance imager (MRI) to permit doctors to detect tiny defects in heart anatomy and function.
  • Washington Cancer Institute opens a medical teleconferencing facility to share information and medical technologies with colleagues at other cancer treatment centers in the region.
  • The Hospital Center installs a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner to detect and diagnose cancer and to monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment. During a scan, a very small dose of radioactive chemical is injected into the vein of the patient's arm. The tracer is absorbed by organs and tissues. The scanner detects and records the energy given off by the tracer substance and, with the aid of a computer, creates three-dimensional pictures. A physician can review cross-sectional images of the body from any angle to detect functional problems that might not show up on a traditional MRI or CT scan.
  • MedSTAR Transport acquires another SPIFR EC-135 helicopter. The service also has two ground ambulances. More than 2,000 patients are flown this year by MedSTAR Transport.
  • Nursing begins extensive recruitment and retention strategies incorporating international recruitment, fellowships, scholarships and best practices. Nursing vacancies drop to 20 percent from a post-strike high of 60 percent.


  • U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson visits MedStar Washington Hospital Center to be briefed on ER One , "the emergency department of the future." A team headed by Mark Smith, MD, began planning ER One in 1999 to address emergency preparedness in the nation's capital.
  • The Hospital Center's cardiac and cardiac surgery, hormonal disorders and urology programs are ranked among the best in the United States in a survey by U.S. News & World Report .
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Centers opens the Center for Image-guided Neurosurgery. The new program offers a new, less-invasive treatment option for cancerous lesions of the neck and head. Using a Gamma knife and treatment software, physicians can locate and irradiate relatively small targets in the head with extremely high precision. Intense doses of radiation can be delivered directly to the targeted area, largely sparing the surrounding tissues and hastening recovery times.
  • The Hospital Center opens the Center for Breast Health, a comprehensive breast care center. The spacious 5,000 square foot facility is twice the size of the previous mammography area and includes a reception and registration area, dressing and waiting space, four mammography suites, an exam consultation space, one stereotactic room and two ultrasound rooms. A grant of $250,000 from the Women's Auxiliary helps to pay for the bright, comfortable new space and advanced equipment.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center's 30-year-old Burn Center is verified by the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association (ABA). Marion Jordan, MD, The Burn Center's director, serves as president of the ABA this year.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center launches a Cancer Residency Program for Spiritual Caregivers. The program brings together spiritual leaders of all faiths for comprehensive sessions and discussions on bioethics, palliative care and the healing process.
  • Washington Cancer Institute celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Hospital Center's vastly expanded oncology program offers 11 interdisciplinary teams for treating major cancers, diagnoses more than 1,400 new cancer cases annually, conducts dozens of research initiatives, and treats more than 70,000 outpatients each year.
  • The Hospital Center joins the Mama and Baby Bus collaborative, a mobile medical facility that brings pre- and post-natal care to pregnant women and their infants, providing better health care to District mothers and their babies.
  • MedSTAR Transport adds another helicopter and three more ground ambulances to its stable. The service flies more than 3,000 patients this year.
  • Myles Lash is named interim president of MedStar Washington Hospital Center while a national search is conducted for a new and permanent leader.


  • James F. Caldas is named president of MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
  • More innovative imaging technology arrives at the Hospital Center in the form of a Computed Tomography (CT) simulator and two linear accelerators. CT imaging provides a three-dimensional view inside the body and is used to reconstruct on-screen a tumor's precise location and size. The accurate picture enables radiation oncologists to design a treatment plan based on extremely detailed information. The linear accelerators deliver the actual treatment to the affected areas.
  • MedSTAR Transport celebrates 20 accident-free years of service to the community. The service has made almost 40,000 flights since it began in 1983.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center opens the mid-Atlantic region's only intermediate care (IMC) unit for neurosurgical and neurology patients. Patients recovering from brain, spinal cord or nerve injuries or disease have access to intermediate care nurses, a social worker, and an in-house rehabilitation team.
  • The Hospital Center's cardiac, cardiac surgery, urology and hormonal disorders programs are ranked among the top in the nation in an annual hospital survey by U.S. News & World Report .
  • The Hospital Center's research program marks its 40th year. Physicians and others at the Hospital Center produce thousands of publications each year and conduct or participate in hundreds of valuable clinical trials in heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, gastroenterology and other areas.
  • The Hospital Center's kidney dialysis unit is one of the largest and busiest in the country, treating more than 11,000 patients each year.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the primary site in the United States for transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) to remove flat polyps in the rectum. The procedure is valuable for early detection of rectal cancer.


  • President James F. Caldas updates the Hospital Center's Mission & Values statement: "MedStar Washington Hospital Center … is dedicated to delivering exceptional Patient First health care. We provide the region with the highest quality and latest medical advances through excellence in patient care, education and research…[Our vision is] to treat each patient as we would a member of our own family by providing the best medical treatment with caring and compassion, responsive service and intelligent use of resources. Through this achievement, we will be recognized as a national model for excellence in patient-centered care." The mission statement also underscores five core values: Patient First, respect, teamwork, integrity, professionalism and innovation.
  • In December 2004, the Hospital Center receives $1.29 million in federal funding to proceed with design and implementation of the ER One initiative.
  • The hospital is awarded a five-year $10 million contract to establish a National Institutes of Health Stroke Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center Stroke Center. The program begins immediately and includes the most recent stroke research protocols and a state-of-the-art MRI equipped with a powerful 3.0 Tesla magnet-the only one of its kind at any Washington metropolitan area hospital. The NIH stroke team will be on call 24/7 to work with staff and private physicians to evaluate and monitor stroke patients.
  • The Hospital Center's Department of Nursing initiates the journey to magnet status. The initial process includes instituting a shared governance model based on central and departmental councils to assure nurse participation and input in hospital decisions.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center acquires two, 16-slice cardiac CT scanners that produce high-definition views of the heart to enhance detection of narrowing or obstruction of the coronary arteries.
  • The Hospital Center partners with Unity Clinics to provide District-wide obstetrics and gynecological services to women.
  • As part of its ongoing public outreach mission, Washington National Eye Center introduces a Mobile Eye Testing Station to deliver eye care to uninsured and low-income residents in the Washington metropolitan area who are unable to travel to the Hospital Center.
  • The Hospital Center's cardiac, cardiac surgery, and hormonal disorders programs are once again ranked among the top in the nation in an annual hospital survey by U.S. News & World Report .


  • One of the busiest cath labs in the nation, the Hospital Center's Cardiac Catheterization Lab begins 24/7 operation with an in-house medical team ready to treat heart attack patients around the clock. According to clinical studies, the earlier a blocked artery is re-opened, the more heart muscle escapes damage. Timing is so crucial that the Hospital Center introduces a new code to alert the in-house cath lab team to imminent patient arrivals. "Code Heart" ensures that team members are ready and waiting when patients need them. Within months, the team treats 138 patients who arrive at the hospital suffering chest pain or heart attacks during off-hours.
  • Quick adoption of the latest generation of imaging technology continues to be a top priority for the Hospital Center. This year Washington Heart acquires a 64-slice CT scanner that produces three-dimensional images of the heart-"virtual angiograms"-to help physicians detect coronary artery disease.
  • The Hospital Center also becomes only the fifth facility in the United States to install a Statscan, a digital X-ray system that scans the entire body in 13 seconds.
  • The hospital acquires the newest ultrasound scanner, designed for abdominal, gynecological, neonatal, urological, thyroid and small parts imaging. The system completes a scan in 14 seconds with the touch of a button, and allows real-time reconstruction of three-dimensional moving images long after the patient has gone home-not possible with traditional ultrasound techniques.
  • The Hospital Center opens Washington Heart Medical Fitness and Wellness Center, the District's only comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program. Located on the grounds of nearby Trinity University, the state-of-the-art center offers individualized exercise "prescriptions" under the supervision of specially-trained exercise physiologists and physicians, as well as classes on nutrition, smoking cessation and managing blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • A new Fibroid Center opens at the hospital for women suffering from benign uterine fibroids. The new facility specializes in minimally or non-invasive options such as pain management, hormone therapy, drug therapy, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), and both laparoscopic and hysteroscopic procedures for removing only the fibroid.
  • The Hospital Center joins with neighboring Children's National Medical Center to establish the Washington Adult Congenital Heart Defect program, the only medical service in the region to provide the full range of specialized care for those with congenital heart defects from birth through adulthood.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center's cardiac, cardiac surgery, and hormonal disorders programs are ranked among the top in the nation in a survey by U.S. News & World Report .


  • MedSTAR Transport opens a state-of-the-art communications center in October in Lanham, Maryland. The new facility incorporates Global Positioning System (GPS) flight tracking, a real-time video link to the Hospital Center's helipad, eight workstations and nearly 30 phone lines and four radio frequencies. The communications center is staffed 24 hours a day with paramedics and communications specialists. The original MedSTAR Transport communications facility was housed in a 10' by 10' space inside the Hospital Center's trauma unit. In 2003, the communications center moved temporarily to Fort Meade, Maryland, pending construction of its new, dedicated facility.
  • Microsoft purchases Azyxxi, software designed by MedStar Washington Hospital Center staff Craig Feied, MD, Mark Smith, MD and Fidrick Isklander, a programmer. The software was first deployed in 1996 under the name Insight in the Hospital Center's Emergency Medicine Department. Other hospital departments adopted the software, too, often using it side-by-side with existing programs. Azyxxi works by managing hundreds of terabytes of live data from patient records including electrocardiograms, scanned documents, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, angiograms and ultrasound images. The program also integrates business, financial, administrative and vendor information, and stores historic data for instant retrieval by caregivers.
  • The Hospital Center opens a Robotic Surgery Program using the da Vinci ® S™ Surgical Robotic System, offering the latest minimally invasive surgery option to patients suffering from certain conditions. The first candidates for the robot technology are patients who need prostatectomies. During an operation, a surgeon sits at a console viewing a three-dimensional image of the surgical field and controls the movements of miniature instruments on the end of robotic arms that enter the patient through several tiny incisions. Compared to traditional eight-to-ten inch incisions required for open surgery, the small incisions promote faster healing and shorter hospitalizations. The system filters out natural hand tremors through special hardware and software components.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the only study site in the Washington region participating in a national trial of a new breast tumor scanning method that might eventually make most biopsies obsolete. Designed to supplement traditional mammography, the equipment uses high-intensity light to identify abnormal blood vessels that often grow out of malignant breast tumors. One of cancer's hallmarks is its ability to form new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis, that feed tumors causing them to grow and spread.
  • The Center for Breast Health "goes digital" by upgrading its mammography equipment to digital systems that produce accurate images in far less time with less discomfort to the patient.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center is ranked among the best in the nation in cardiac care and kidney disease treatment in this year's survey of hospitals by U.S. News & World Report .
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of 10 hospitals awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop and implement Expecting Success , a program designed to improve the quality of cardiac care provided to minorities.
  • A MedSTAR Transport helicopter crashes due to mechanical failure on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Washington, across the street from MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The patient being transported later dies in the operating room. The incident was the first accident in the MedSTAR's 22-year history. The three-person crew survives but is seriously injured. The accident is widely covered by the news media for the next week, including live coverage and many press conferences.


  • In February, Washington Cancer Institute opens a Women's Oncology Center, the first such facility in the region for women with gynecological and breast cancers. The Center also includes a cancer genetics program, offering a genetics counselor and medical geneticist. Breast and ovarian cancers are often genetically linked diseases.
  • Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center continues to be the busiest cancer center in the nation's capital, caring for 3,000 new patients and handling 80,000 patient visits last year.
  • The hospital becomes the first in the region to offer robot-assisted surgery for hysterectomies.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center's heart, heart surgery, kidney and geriatric care programs are ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report . The 18th annual survey reviewed more than 5,000 hospitals nationwide.
  • More than 300 residents and fellows pursue graduate education at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in almost three dozen areas, ranging from breast disease, infectious disease, and ophthalmology, to emergency medicine, urology and cardiovascular disease.
  • On the eve of its 50 th anniversary, the 926-bed MedStar Washington Hospital Center remains the largest private hospital in the nation's capital and among the largest hospitals in the United States. Many of the Hospital Center's programs are acknowledged to be the "best in class" and a few garner world-wide recognition.


  • New scientific applications are introduced for the first time ever in an emergency room setting at the Hospital Center in January 2008. Designed both to reduce the risk of spreading infectious disease and to handle a surge of patients in the event of a mass casualty event, this redesigned hospital space represent the first time that design and fabrication specifications of Project ER One are implemented to serve as a working laboratory to test new materials and applications in emergency medicine. Planning for Project ER One, an all-risks ready emergency care facility, began under the leadership of Mark Smith, MD, chairman of Emergency Medicine, in 1999. Features of the new space include a state-of-the art ventilation system, negative-pressure isolation rooms, walls made of Corian® and surfaces coated with antimicrobial material all to limit the spread of infection.
  • On March 10, MedStar Washington Hospital Center celebrates its 50th anniversary. As part of the milestone event, the Hospital Center begins plans for a major capital campaign to build new facilities to replace the original "miracle building" and myriad additions that have served it well for a half-century.