Whitman-Walker Health Has Successful 2011, Sets Out New Plans for 2012

Emphasis on Community, Caring and Quality Produces Important Results

Washington, DC –Whitman-Walker had a highly successful 2011, both in patient care and financially.

“2011 was one of the most successful years in Whitman-Walker’s history,” said Don Blanchon, Executive Director. “By adopting a greater emphasis on community, caring and quality, we produced results for the community that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. And we show no signs of slowing down in 2012.”


“Our strength lies in the diversity of the community we care for,” said Blanchon. “Our patient base in 2011 showed a diversity of not just gender, race, sexual orientation and age but also geography.”  

Whitman-Walker cared for 15,515 individuals, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2010.  The patient base has nearly doubled since Whitman-Walker began the process to become a community health center in 2006.

“Our patients seek care at our health centers from all across DC and the metropolitan area,” said Blanchon. “While 69 percent of our patients are DC residents, 16 percent come from Maryland, 11 percent come from Virginia, and four percent come from other states. Most of our patients have some form of public or private insurance coverage, so the fact that individuals living in suburban Maryland and northern Virginia travel to DC is evidence of the high quality of care and the high level of culturally competent care we provide.”

“Locally, all eight DC wards are represented in our patient base,” said Blanchon. “While a plurality of our patients resides in Ward One, we care for patients from all across the city.  Our commitment to those living east of the Anacostia River is illustrated by the fact that one in seven of our patients in 2011 lived in Wards Seven and Eight--a 68 percent increase over 2010.”

The diversity of our patients reflects a tremendous diversity across the entire metro DC community:

  • Gender: 68 percent male, 29 percent female, three percent transgender. The number of transgender patients has increased by 185 percent since 2006.
  • Race/ethnicity: 48 percent Black, 37 percent white, 15 percent other or unknown. In addition, 14 percent of patients identified their ethnicity as Hispanic.
  • Age: Four percent were younger than 21, 33 percent were ages 21-30, 25 percent were ages 31-40, 20 percent were ages 41-50, 13 percent were ages 51-60, and five percent were older than 60.
  • Sexual orientation: 50 percent self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, while 50 percent self-identified as heterosexual. The number of LGB patients has increased by 77 percent since 2006.
  • HIV status: 20 percent were HIV-positive.

“Caring is the reason we are here,” said Blanchon. “From the very start, our mission has been to care for those who come to us. And we are finding more ways to improve that vital care.”

Whitman-Walker continues to partner with other community agencies to bring services to more of those in need, including:

  • NIH/DC Dept. of Health—DC Partnership for AIDS Progress (three specific initiatives)
  • Clinical Research—MACS with Johns Hopkins University and Phase II/III medication trials for HIV and Hepatitis
  • Medical Education—George Washington University, Georgetown University, and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to train medical students about LGBT and HIV/AIDS care.
  • DC Primary Care Association—Multiple initiatives including RHIO, a program to confidentially exchange patient information between a hospital and health center in a timely manner to better coordinate patient care.
  • Mautner Project – PALS, (People Advocating for LGBT Seniors), a free program connecting compassionate, trained volunteer visitors with LGBT seniors, aged 55 and older, living at home or in assisted living and nursing facilities.

WWH completed renovations to both sites in 2011 to improve our patients’ experience. The waiting area, patient check-in and check-out areas and the pharmacy at Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center underwent extensive renovations that improved patient flow, expanded the size of the pharmacy, and made the space more welcoming. Max Robinson Center’s check-in and waiting area were also renovated to better serve patients.

In addition, WWH administered more than 10,600 HIV tests in 2011, nine percent of all HIV tests administered in the District of Columbia, with 174 new HIV diagnoses.

“Quality has always been a core value of Whitman-Walker,” said Blanchon. “It has always been imperative to provide our patients with the quality care they deserve. Now, it’s even more vital to ensure our future success.”

Quality of care indicators for WWH patients remained high in 2011, often beating national benchmarks:

  • HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral medication: 90 percent
  • HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral medication with a controlled HIV viral load: 80 percent
  • AIDS patients on Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) prophylaxis: 100 percent
  • Female patients who have had a pap smear in previous 36 months: 63 percent
  • Diabetic patients with well-controlled cholesterol (LDL<100): 77 percent

“Our patients continued to receive high quality care,” said Dr. Ray Martins, Chief Medical Officer at Whitman-Walker. “Many of the indicators we use met or exceeded our own goals and, in many cases, exceeded national benchmarks for care. For example, the number of WWH AIDS patients on PCP prophylaxis exceeded the national benchmark by 14 points. Patients at Whitman-Walker no longer need to see us as a health care provider of last resort; they can be confident that we will provide them with high quality care.”

The quality of services at WWH was recognized by a number of local and national agencies in 2011:

  • DC Medical Society—2011 John Benjamin Nichols Award for outstanding contribution toward improving the health of the community
  • American College of Physicians (DC Chapter)—Dr. Raymond Martins, chief medical officer, named 2011 Volunteer and Community Service award recipient
  • Capital City AHEC—2011 health center of the year for training medical professionals
  • DC Bar Foundation—Erin Loubier, senior managing attorney, awarded 2011 Jerrold Scoutt Prize for demonstrated professional commitment to clients   
  • Human Rights Campaign Foundation - “Leader in Healthcare Equality,” one of 27 health centers in the nation to meet all applicable criteria.
  • National Quality Center - Award for Performance Measurement for significantly strengthened ability to measure the quality of HIV care and/or services.
Finances and the Year Ahead

For the second year in a row, Whitman-Walker finished with an operating gain. For 2011, WWH projects a preliminary gain in excess of $2.6 million. This operating gain was used to pay off WWH’s outstanding line of credit and reduce accounts payable. The gain of 2011 marked a nearly $7 million turnaround in five years.

“We can attribute our financial success to three factors,” said Blanchon. “First, more patient care produced higher revenues, largely from third-party health insurance payments and prescription drug sales. Second, our fundraising efforts exceeded our projections for the first time in at least five years. Third, our new operating culture emphasizes the importance of living within our means.”

“This success is a testament to the leadership of Don Blanchon as executive director,” said Adam Falcone, Chair of the Board of Directors of Whitman-Walker Health. “Since he joined us almost six years ago, Don has been tireless in his efforts to make this transition to a community health center successful, a goal that has clearly been accomplished. His success was recognized by Vistage International, the world’s leading CEO peer advisory membership organization, who presented him with their annual 'Impact' award. The Board of Directors could not be more pleased with Don’s work.”

“Our health center business model places WWH in a great position for life after health care reform. After two consecutive years of positive financial results, WWH can now invest in our health centers and by extension our community,” said Blanchon. “We therefore will invest over $1 million in 2012 to improve our operations and overall quality of patient care and service.”

Whitman-Walker’s new investments for 2012 include such improvements and/or expansions to WWH’s information systems, program space needs, Patient-Centered Medical Homes’ implementation efforts, and small capital projects.     

Whitman-Walker is expanding its efforts to engage in a dialogue with the community where both sides benefit.

“We have already rolled out both our new ‘Our Stories. Our Community’ series and our Community Conversations series,” said Blanchon. “For years, we’ve heard amazing and inspiring stories from our patients, volunteers and community supporters. Now, we’re sharing those stories with the entire community in this ad and online commentary series.”

“The Community Conversations give us a chance to focus on specific health topics for the LGBT community,” said Blanchon. “They are an opportunity to disseminate information on these issues and, at the same time, hear what the community’s concerns are. Are they hearing or seeing something that we aren’t? Do they have ideas we haven’t thought about? Both sides benefit from these conversations.”

“We will also hold a special HIV/AIDS community forum on July 24, during the IAS Conference on AIDS,” said Blanchon. “We will return to Lisner Auditorium, the site of the very first forum about AIDS in DC in 1983, to talk with the community about the current state of the epidemic and what the future may hold.”

While plans for 2012 are being executed, Whitman-Walker’s leadership is looking farther into the future.

“Health care reform will be fully implemented in just two years,” said Blanchon. “We need to plan for that reality and how it will change the work we do. If everyone has health coverage, they will make their health care plans based on the quality of care they receive, not on who will see them if they can’t pay. We already provide high quality care at Whitman-Walker, but we can always be better. We will have to make sure that the community knows we provide the best health care around.”

“2013 marks 40 years of service to our community, beginning with the Gay Men’s VD Clinic in 1973,” said Blanchon. “Hundreds of thousands have people have come through our doors in that time, seeking affirming and quality health care that they couldn’t find elsewhere. We are committed to a future of continuing service to our community for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Established in 1978, Whitman-Walker Health is a non-profit community health center located in Washington, DC. Our 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. Whitman-Walker Health offers primary medical and dental care; mental health and addictions counseling and treatment; HIV education, prevention, and testing; legal services; and medical adherence care management.  We are especially committed to meeting the health needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and people living with HIV/AIDS.