Washington, D.C.-Based Whitman-Walker Clinic To Expand Medical, Social Service Programs
The Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic on Thursday announced that it plans to expand its medical and social service programs for people living with HIV/AIDS while making efforts to become a comprehensive health care center, the Washington Post reports. The clinic will reform its social service programs in an effort to better meet its clients' health needs, as well as launch a public awareness campaign aimed at high-risk groups in the area. According to the Post, up to one-fourth of Whitman-Walker's 240-person staff will be reassigned or let go.
"We plan to return to aggressive grassroots outreach in high-risk communities," Whitman-Walker Executive Director Donald Blanchon said, adding, "We want to be on the right street corners with the right information addressing people who are truly at risk." The awareness campaign -- called Project Red for reach, education and decrease -- will target black men, women younger than age 40, minority men who have sex with men and MSM younger than age 25. The first advertisement will run on Friday with the headline "change or perish." The ad also says that the "status quo isn't working. If we don't change how we do things, more area residents will die."
The announcement comes as Whitman-Walker is attempting to attract more clients while "recovering from a budget crisis that forced deep cuts and layoffs in 2005," the Post reports. The clinic in 2007 ended the year with a deficit of about $300,000, compared with a $950,000 deficit two years ago. According to Blanchon, not enough financial progress has been made for Whitman-Walker to be financially viable.
The changes to Whitman-Walker also are a reflection of the health issues -- including osteoporosis and heart disease -- that face long-term HIV/AIDS survivors, according to the Post. In addition, the changes are an attempt to respond to the HIV/AIDS situation in the district. Blanchon noted a recent report by the district's HIV/AIDS Administration that highlights the effect of the disease on the city's black community.
Whitman-Walker expects to provide care for more than 13,000 clients this year at its three locations in the district and Northern Virginia (Levine, Washington Post, 1/11).