Georgetown University’s Hospital could expand under the 2010 Campus Plan

A while back, a Vox Populi post saw a rash of upset comments about the Georgetown University Hospital’s role in the 2010 Campus Plan. Specifically, a Vox reader noticed that in the open letter Citizens’ Association of Georgetown President Jennifer Altemus (COL ’88) had sent to University President John DeGioia outlining the community’s concerns about the proposed Ten Year Plan, she had made this suggestion regarding the Georgetown University Hospital:

“Relocating the hospital to another site on the University campus accessed from Canal Road would avoid these objectionable impacts and also create a large space for the construction of new student housing.”

Subsequent student commenters were not pleased, and responses ranged from this:

“What an idiot. She actually suggesting moving the hospital? I had thought the association was comprised of slightly cranky but generally reasonable non-student residents, but not actual extremists. The author is a true fool.”

To this:

“Jennifer Altemus deserves every bad thing that ever happens to her in her life.”

But Altemus’s suggestion that the University move the Hospital did not come out of nowhere. Vox is guessing that her comments derive from the fact that plans to build an entirely new Hospital facility really are part of Georgetown’s 2010 Campus Plan. Only, construction of a new facility isn’t going to free up any room for more student housing, because the current Hospital facilities don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Read more after the jump, plus some seriously nasty e-mails between a Georgetown alum and the CAG Vice President about the Hospital

Spokesperson for the University Hospital Marianne Worley contacted employees of MedStar, the non-profit company that owns the facilities, to get the details about the hospital element of the Ten Year Plan. In an e-mail, she wrote that MedStar had agreed to the University proposal that they build “an additional facility” on the current hospital parking lot and the site of the Kober Cogan Building, which would be torn down.

Above, a technical drawing from the November draft of the 2010 Campus Plan (pdf) shows where the new construction would take place—on the parking lot in from of Darnall Hall.

So it looks like Altemus was half-right in her recollection of the University’s plans, although I’m sure neighbors will be disappointed to learn that for now, Georgetown is just constructing more buildings, and not tearing down old ones.

A few weeks later, though, Altemus’s suggestions caused a thread of downright choleric e-mails between Georgetown alum Joseph Corcoran and Altemus’s Vice President at CAG, Gianluca Pivato.

It started with an e-mail from Corcoran, the alum:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I recently moved from the Georgetown neighborhood in Washington to London. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the area, though agree with your organization’s assessment that some students, particularly on weekend nights, are often disrespectful of their community.

However, I was shocked to read the following from your leadership in a recent public letter:

“Relocating the hospital to another site on the University campus accessed fiom Canal Road would avoid these objectionable impacts and also create a large space for the construction of new student housing.”

The hospital in question is Georgetown University Hospital. Never have I read something so ill informed, so blatantly hostile and so utterly, utterly idiotic as the above statement. Do you mean to suggest that a hospital that serves the greater Washington area and is known as the best hospital sans Johns Hopkins in the metropolitan area should move altogether? Any fool who lives in Georgetown realizes there is no where for such a structure to be built, unless you advocate moving it into the Georgetown neighborhood.

I must say that your organization has taken a deeply irresponsible route in making such a laughably absurd question. To think a massive hospital should move to make way for dorms! Please fire whatever pitifully ignorant soul wrote this letter. He or she is an embarrassment to Georgetown.


J.M. Corcoran III

Gianluca Pivato, the Vice-President of CAG, responded, “The ‘pitiful ignorant’ you are referring to is the board of directors of MedStar (the owner of Georgetown) [sic] and the board of trustees of Georgetown University.” He went on to argue that there were two potential options for the Hospital’s future—MedStar could renovate its current facilities over 10 years, or build an entirely new facility at once—and that Altemus had been arguing in favor of wholesale construction of a new facility, although he said that a whole new facility would result in the demolition of the old facilities, which it won’t.

“CAG has absolutely nothing to do with this. We simply stated that we would prefer MedStar’s proposal to a 10 year construction project. I believe your apologies are due in short order,” he wrote.

Corcoran promptly responded that a new facility wouldn’t result in a new land gain.

“I have always found it amusing that short term residents of the university’s neighborhood for over 200 years should be so myopic,” he wrote. “Indeed, you are the pitiful ignorant. And for that, I really do apologize.”

Pivato responded:

“Joseph, fuck off. You are senile or ill.”

At this point, Joseph Corcoran looped Vox Populi into their e-mail thread, and made Pivato aware that he had done so, writing:

“While I do not respect you and your opinions, and have made that perfectly clear, I think your tone somewhat irresponsible. As a former student and resident, I hope the university and CAG find better representatives in these matters than yourself. Your conduct and CAG’s in this matter is regrettable.”

Pivato replied-all to Vox and Corcoran:

“There is nothing wrong in telling you to fuck off. Really. You are using a fake identity to gratuitously insult residents, CAG, GU, and MedStar. If you were not the coward you are you would use your real identity.”

Shit. Vox now thinks the odds that the 2010 Campus Plan will not wind up in four years’ of litigation like the 2000 Campus Plan are exceedingly low. With tempers like those, we don’t stand a Philly Pizza’s chance in Georgetown.

Updated 2:37 p.m.: Corcoran did not respond to an e-mail sent a few weeks ago asking if he was using a false identity, as Pivato accused.

13 Comments on “Georgetown University’s Hospital could expand under the 2010 Campus Plan

  1. Did Corcoran have a response to the accusation that he was in some way not using this true identity?

  2. He did not, and he didn’t respond to an e-mail asking whether he was using a false identity (which I should include, forgive my forgetting). But besides Pivato’s accusation, there isn’t any other indication that he is.

  3. I think it was 7 years of litigation (at least that’s what has been quoted to me).

  4. Molly,

    If you or Vox sent me an email, I do apologize for not replying. However, I don’t believe I’ve seen it. In either event, I was not using a false identity. I am, as I stated, an alumnus who no longer lives in the Georgetown neighbourhood. I’m not sure why Mr. Pivato insisted that I was someone else. I would also say that, despite strongly disagreeing with CAG, my tone was accusatory and highly regrettable. I certainly did not contribute to the dialogue in any positive way. I consider the matter between CAG and myself closed, and hope that cooler heads than mine and Mr. Pivato’s prevail.

    Joe Corcoran
    jmc89[at]Georgetown[dot]edu / Corcoran.JosephM[at]GMail[dot]com

  5. @ Calen Angert — My and other Voice writers’ research tells me that the major legal issues were settled in December, 2003. Juliana Brint’s column, which I’ve linked to in the post, is a great primer on the 2000 Campus Plan’s troubles.

    @ Joseph Corcoran — Thanks for clearing that up.

  6. The kiddo tried to play with the adults and got slapped down and now he’s whining to everyone.

  7. I think that an “adult” representative of a neighborhood organization shouldn’t be telling anyone to “fuck off.” That’s not slapping down a “kiddo,” that’s acting worse than any college brat straw-man that CAG and its supporters wish to call upon. While Corcoran self-admittedly does not positively contribute, Pivato’s remarks were completely uncalled for. I would love for those who love to tout the boorishness of Georgetown students to have a look at the hypocrisy inside their ranks. We’re all actually adults here and we all have a stake in this.

  8. I can vouch for the fact that Joe Corcoran was in the class of ’07, and while he may not have made a winning argument in this instance, I’d take his side in standing up against the neighbors ANY DAY OF THE YEAR.

    The Georgetown Neighbors: Telling Georgetown University to “Fuck Off” since 2010.

  9. “we don’t stand a Philly Pizza’s chance in Georgetown.” made my day

  10. Pingback: Vox Populi » A wrap-up of the CAG meeting on the 2010 Campus Plan, Part 2

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