St. Elizabeth is a psychiatric hospital operated by the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health. It was the first large-scale, federally run psychiatric hospital in the United States. Housing several thousand patients at its peak, St. Elizabeth had a fully functioning medical-surgical unit and offered accredited internships and psychiatric residencies.
At its peak, the St. Elizabeth campus housed 8,000 patients and employed 4,000 people. Beginning in the 1950s, however, large institutions were being criticized for hindering the treatment of patients. Community-based health care, as specified in the passage of the 1963 Community Mental Health Act, lead to it's deinstitutionalization. The act provided for local outpatient facilities and drug therapy as a more effective means of allowing patients to live near-normal lives. The patient population of St. Elizabeth steadily declined.
It has since fallen into disrepair and the grounds are mostly abandoned, although the east campus is still operational.