Washington Post Examines Effects of Faltering Economy on Whitman-Walker Clinic
The Washington Post on Thursday examined how the Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic has been "struggling with declining revenue and increased expenses because of an increase in patient care for most of a decade." According to the Post, the recent economic downturn also has made the clinic "scale back even further." Whitman-Walker last month moved to a more consolidated location in an effort to address mounting debt, and the clinic the day after the move announced that it would outsource some programs, close a clinic in Northern Virginia and lay off up to 45 of its 178 employees by the end of March. The recent layoffs will reduce Whitman-Walker's staffing by 25%, and CEO Donald Blanchon said that the approximately 260 employees the clinic had in 2005 will be reduced by almost half by March. "The clinic is not immune to anything that is going on," Blanchon said, adding, "The days of Whitman-Walker Clinic being all things to all people is probably not practical now."
According to Blanchon, the sale of the clinic's former building helped to address only some previous financial issues and other measures were needed to cope with the arrival of new patients. He added that the layoffs will reduce the number of administrative and management positions at Whitman-Walker and would allow the clinic to focus on providing high-quality health care. However, with "steep declines in government funding, private donations and staffing, the clinic faces significant challenges in providing primary medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS," the Post reports. The number of new HIV/AIDS cases and deaths has decreased each year from 2002 to 2006, but the number of people living with the disease has increased by almost 50% during the same time period, according to the district Department of Health. The Post reports that this increase has prompted more people to access Whitman-Walker services. "We need more doctors, dentists, psychotherapists and addiction counselors," Blanchon said, adding, "Every one of our employees now understands the challenges we are facing. The quality of what we do matters" (Wilson, Washington Post, 1/8).