A number of national healthcare organizations shut down their Washington offices last Friday in conjunction with a summit meeting there commemorating the 50th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Fears of terrorist actions relating to the war in Yugoslavia closed off Washington streets and portions of the National Mall, which affected public transit commuters, motorists and tourists. Armed soldiers and police patrolled perimeters.
The American Hospital Association's 70-person Washington office was informed a week ago that all but essential employees should stay home April 24. The AHA's office at 325 7th St. N.W. is about 800 yards from the White House.
Only employees who had pedestrian passes were permitted entry.
"We knew everything would be gridlocked, so we just threw in the towel," explained AHA spokesman Richard Wade, who didn't go to his office.
Phone calls to the Health Insurance Association of America were greeted by recordings saying the insurance lobbying organization's headquarters were closed because of the NATO summit. The Washington office of the American Medical Association also was closed.
Fred Caesar, director of public affairs for the Catholic Health Association, said the association's offices weren't affected. But he noted the frequent passing of military helicopters.