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D.C. Success Story

D.C. Success Story

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Nbroverman

Bucking trends, Washington, D.C.'s gay-centered Whitman-Walker health care clinic has climbed out of a financial hole while simultaneously providing additional services and treating more patients.

Unlike similar centers in San Francisco and Chicago, Whitman-Walker is reporting a $890,000 operating gain for 2010 and is expecting over $500,000 in operating gain for 2011; this contrasts with losses of more than $4 million in both 2007 and 2008, and a $750,000 loss in 2009. Whitman-Walker, which operates two clinics in D.C., turned things around by evolving from an HIV clinic to a health center that serves diverse patients and treats numerous conditions.

"Whitman-Walker really had a dated AIDS service organization model," clinic executive director Don Blanchon tells The Advocate. "But with the advent of the antiretroviral therapy and the fact that people were successful in having better qualities of life, the model changes. Now we have people living with HIV that have a lot of other health needs, so we need to manage that care better."

The clinic expanded beyond HIV treatment and testing to include diabetes and dental care and a myriad of women's services, such as cancer screenings. In addition to broadening its reach, the center -- established in the 1970s to meet the needs of gay men in the capital city -- is taking on many patients who aren't LGBT. In doing so, the clinic has been able to add to its revenue stream.

"We had to look at our business model that was predominantly grant and private fund-raiser driven [and direct it] to an area where we could operate as a health center and rely on third-party health payments," Blanchon says. "Whether it be insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, or sales of pharmaceuticals on site."

The added income will go to paying off some bills, Blanchon says, but a small amount will go to the refurbishment of its patient waiting area at the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center. The windfall will also cover added expenses related to health care benefits for employees.

Click here to find out more about Whitman-Walker.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.