Washington, D.C., Free Clinic To Close, Staff To Join Whitman-Walker Clinic
The Washington, D.C.-based Washington Free Clinic, which has provided low-cost or no-cost health care services since 1968 to people in the city, is scheduled to close on Friday, and its staff will be joining the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS services in the region, the Washington Post reports. The Free Clinic serves about 1,800 patients, many of whom are working poor people and immigrants from Central America or Africa without health insurance. The clinic has a staff of about 50 volunteer doctors and nurses. Whitman-Walker -- which was launched by the Washington Free Clinic in 1973 as the Gay Men's VD Clinic and five years later became a separate organization -- is expanding its medical services in the district. Whitman-Walker has 7,000 clients, facilities in the district and Northern Virginia, and a $22 million budget. According to the Post, the alliance between the two clinics also will benefit Whitman-Walker after it experienced financial problems in 2005 that forced its leaders to "reconsider its long-term future," the Post reports. Gardiner Lapham, chair of the Free Clinic board, said, "It does come full circle. [Whitman-Walker is] now taking care of us," adding that closing is "really painful, but it's the right thing for the community." Free Clinic officials said they expect to be treating both Whitman-Walker and former Free Clinic clients by Jan. 29 (Levine, Washington Post, 1/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.