Whitman-Walker Health (WWH) will open a new, modern health care center at 1525 14th Street NW in mid-2014 – leasing the entire building south of Q Street, which is now under construction (photos at bottom). The current offices at the Elizabeth Taylor Center, 14th and R Streets NW, will still house certain special programs and administrative services.
WWH is leasing the entire building for 10 years with the option of two five-year renewals, according to Executive Director Don Blanchon.
According to WWH, the 43,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art center will enable them to further its role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, expand on its commitment to provide affirming, culturally-competent care to metro DC’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and better serve the 14th Street NW corridor. WWH also has the Max Robinson Center in Anacostia.
Financial Diversity, Long-Term Viability
WWH said in a release that the move is part of an effort to “pursue greater financial diversity to ensure our long-term viability, and will expand our community leadership role in LGBT health and HIV/AIDS care in DC.”
“Whitman-Walker has nearly doubled our patient base over the past six years and we expect growth to continue as more residents access care through the new health reform law,” said Blanchon. Many major provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act “(Obamacare”) take effect January 1, 2014. “This new facility will enable WWH to meet the health care needs of our community and provide the highest quality care in a 21st-Century health care home.”
WWH was founded in 1978. The original offices were at the northwest corner of 14th and S Streets, now part a new JBG Cos. apartment building, which will soon be completed and stretches from S to Swann Streets.
WWH began accepting private insurance from patients several years ago, and the health center’s plans are to move more toward becoming a full-service health center for all residents in the neighborhood. WWH offers primary medical and dental care; mental health and addictions counseling and treatment.
When the move is complete, WWH will have enough space for health care services, a larger pharmacy, a Travel Medicine clinic, Wellness programs and complementary therapies such as acupuncture. The plan is built around Whitman-Walker’s three core values: Community, Caring and Quality.
Expected Patient Growth, Affordable Health Care Act
“We expect to see additional patient growth as more DC residents seek integrated primary care, as more individuals move into the new apartment and condominium projects along the 14th Street NW corridor and, in 2014 and beyond, as more residents have health coverage via the DC Health Insurance Exchange,” said Dr. Raymond Martins, chief medical officer of WWH.
The building at 1525 14th Street NW is presently under construction and is expected to be completed in spring 2014. The new health care home will provide for major expansions of the following services: primary medical care, pharmacy, mental health and addictions counseling, dental care and legal services. It will also house key new services including optical services, complimentary therapies (acupuncture and massage), pulmonary function testing, and a travel medicine clinic.
Staying in the Community
“Over the past 18 months, the Board of Directors engaged in a thoughtful and thorough planning discussion about Whitman-Walker Health’s role in the community in a post-health care reform world,” said Blanchon. “From these discussions emerged the vision of Whitman-Walker Health as a 21st-Century, best-in-class health care home.
“This option allows us to secure new space in less than two years, lets us expand existing services and add new ones, is affordable, enables us to remain in our current neighborhood, and does not negatively impact our current operations at Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center.”
“We will never be able to meet the health care needs of our community and provide the highest quality care in outdated, crowded buildings that were not designed for 21st Century health care,” said Raymond Martins, MD, chief medical officer of Whitman-Walker.
Growth in Number of Patients
Since 2009, Whitman-Walker Health has experienced the following patient growth:
- 24% increase in number of primary medical care patients
- 37% increase in number of dental care patients
- 85% increase in number of mental health care patients
- 52% increase in number of addictions counseling patients
- 29% increase in number of individuals seeking STD/STI Clinic services
In 2012, Whitman-Walker Health was again recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality. WWH is a non-profit community health center whose mission is to “”be the highest quality, culturally competent community health center serving greater Washington’s diverse urban community, including individuals who face barriers to accessing care, and with a special expertise in LGBT and HIV care.” HIV education, prevention, and testing; legal services; and medical adherence care management. WWH is especially committed to meeting the health needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and people living with HIV/AIDS.