The government's partial shutdown has halted most enrollment into research studies at the National Institutes of Health's famed hospital. But some desperately ill patients have managed to get in.
Normally, about 200 new patients a week enroll in studies at the NIH's research-only hospital, often referred to as the "house of hope" because so many of those people have failed standard treatments. During the shutdown, the NIH furloughed so many employees that it said it could admit new patients only in crisis cases, when someone's illness was imminently life-threatening and the intended study offered some hope of improvement.
Agency spokeswoman Renate Myles said that from Oct. 1 through Tuesday, 12 patients were enrolled in studies at the NIH Clinical Center. Most had cancer.
The NIH website carries this disclaimer that states the NIH Clinical Center is open:
"Due to the lapse in government funding, the information on this web site may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the web site may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.
"The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, go to cc.nih.gov."