ANC 6D: Amidon-Bowen Parents Complain About Healthcare Staffing

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met on Jan. 8 via Zoom. Commissioners Bob Link (6DO1, vice chair), Ronald Collins (6D02, treasurer), Gail Fast (6D03), Andrea Pawley (6D04), Ashton Rohmer (6D05), Bruce Levine (6D06, secretary), Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D07, chair) and Rhonda Hamilton (6D08) were in attendance.

“For the entire first week of school, we had no one in our health suite,” said Amidon-Bowen parent Sarah Buckley. Her remarks was made to the ANC commissioners as well as to Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who had been invited to address parental concerns at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, 401 I St. SW.

Amidon-Bowen is part of a cluster of neighborhood elementary schools which share four to five nursing techs supervised by a nurse under a contract with the DC Dept. of Health (DOH). “This (staffing plan) is very concerning for me as a parent of a child with serious food allergies,” said Buckley. The school’s medical staff is completely disorganized, she said.

According to Erica Walker, her son, a fifth grader at Amidon, hit his head during gym class. The school’s nurse tech on duty did not check him for a concussion and she had to leave work to check on him.

“Please take into consideration having a full-time nurse. You never know when your child’s life with depend on it,” said Walker.

Brian Riley had to go to the school to administer his child’s medicine, because there was no one trained to dispense it. “We need full time staffing in our health suite. We need communication with the administration on who that person is,” said Riley.

In a few months, schools have gone from 90 percent staffing to 50, percent Riley said. In his opinion, the cluster healthcare model is failing. Nurses cannot supervise health technicians from a distance, he pointed out. There has been no in-person nurse at Amidon this year, he stated; and the nurse technicians are there 24 hours or less a week.

“No one is listening to the parents and we are looking for advocacy from the Council,” Commissioner Pawley told the attending councilmembers. “I know there is no easy situation for the problem with the nursing, but there seems to be no urgency to resolve the issue,” she continued.

“I agree with you (Commissioner Pawley) and we will continue to press the administration,” said Chair Mendelson, promising further oversite on the nursing issue at the Council’s upcoming performance and budget hearings. The cluster health contract is not going well, he concurred. The contractor has not been able to hire sufficient staff, he said.

“It is a wrong and failed model and we have to course correct,” Councilmember Allen said. “It is frustrating to me that the Amidon community has felt ghosted by DCPS,” he said.

“Every school should have a nurse. That is the law,” Chair Mendelson reiterated. “We have legislated for a nurse in every school. We have budgeted for a nurse in every school.”

Treasurer Collins suggested terminating the healthcare contract if hiring goals are not bieng met. Commissioner Hamilton suggested seeking aid from close medical facilities such as Unity Healthcare.

Amidon Relocation

The parents, commissioners and councilmembers also discussed the issue of Amidon-Bowen’s relocation to the former Meyer Elementary School at 2501 11th St. NW during its modernization. The site is located 3.5 miles away from its present location. For a more detailed discussion, read www.hillrag.com/2023/10/02/is-amidon-bowen-swinging-too-far.

While expressing appreciation of Allen’s efforts to craft an alternative, parent Buckley objected to the swing space location, and implored the ANC to push for another solution.

The swing space is not workable, Councilmember Allen agreed. DCPS should explore using the neighboring recreational field as an option for a modular campus, he said. However, DCPS typically settles on a solution the year before the move, he said. “So, there is time for advocacy,” Allen continued.

Has a feasibility study been done? asked Commissioner Fast. DCPS relies on DGS to analyze alternatives, Allen said; and there has as yet been no report.

Safeway Survey Results

Commissioner Pawley reported the results of the commission’s survey of residents regarding the Safeway at 1100 Fourth St. SW. Residents
approved of the  location and the friendliness of staff. They did not like staff attitudes, the low stock, the lack of baskets and carts. Other
complaints included low quality goods, bad service, unsafe conditions, the closure of self-checkout lines, the lack of cleanliness and frequent shoplifting.

Pawley and Commissioner Hamilton have contacted Safeway to resolve residents’ concerns. They are recruiting neighbors to monitor the store to ensure accountability. They promised periodic updates.

Other Matters

Commission appointed Commissioner Pawley as its representative at the Alcohol and Cannabis Board’s (ABC Board) hearing scheduled to consider the renewal of Safeway’s liquor license.

Commission voted to send Thrasher’s a letter demanding the removal of their pier kiosk, which violates their cooperative agreement with the commission.

The commission supported liquor licenses and cooperative agreements for:

• Hen Quarter at 2121 First St. SW;

• Cordial Craft Wine Beer and Spirits at 70 District Sq, SW as well as a tasting endorsement;

• Oasis Marina at 658 Wharf St. SW.

Metropolitan Police Dept. (MPD) Sector 3 Captain Kevin Harding and PSA 105 Lieutenant Elias Danho briefed the commission on public safety. A Dec. 21st triple shooting left two survivors, they said. A Dec. 26th murder has been closed within two days, they reported. The body with a gunshot wound discovered in a trash can on Canal Street SW was declared a homicide, they said. The victim has not yet been identified. On Jan. 21, two sex crimes occurred. Police made an arrest. The US Attorney choose not to charge one of the cases, while the second remains under investigation.

The existing commission officers were re-elected to another two-year term. Commissioner Rohmer tendered her resignation. The commission approved its 2024 calendar

The commission voted to support the developers at 45 Q St. SW in their tussles with the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) over the replacement of lay-bys with bioretention areas

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. The next meeting is Feb. 12, 2024. For more information, visit www.anc6d.org.