Collaborating Across the Community for Greater Health Equity

Arlington consistently ranks among the three healthiest counties in Virginia, but these numbers hide tremendous disparities that persist in certain neighborhoods where 45% of children live in poverty and life expectancies are as much as 10 years less than for people residing in more affluent, adjacent neighborhoods.

By the time patients seek care at AFC, many already have serious health conditions including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. According to public health research, the health of individuals in poverty is greatly affected by their socioeconomic conditions. For example, if a family doesn’t have access to healthy food choices, they are at greater risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Because of this, AFC is actively participating in county-wide efforts to address social determinants of health in our community.

Arlington Free Clinic is working with partners community-wide on tackling the root causes of poor health. Here are several initiatives AFC is participating in:

Northern Virginia Health Foundation Collaborative Grant
The four clinics serving Arlington’s most vulnerable —Arlington Free Clinic, Virginia Hospital Center’s Outpatient Clinic, Arlington Pediatric Center, and Arlington Department of Human Services’ Maternity Clinic—are collecting data on non-medical factors that affect our patients’ health including housing conditions, food insecurity, transportation, physical/emotional abuse, and companionship. This data will be shared with county leaders who can direct resources to address these problems.

200 Bridges Pilot Program
AFC is a partner in Arlington’s Bridges Out of Poverty Program, a county-wide initiative to empower our low-income neighbors. Local safety-net organizations and county agencies are working directly with 200 of Arlington’s high-need families to help parents and their children obtain access to adequate housing, better wages, healthcare, and educational advancement.

Community Progress Network (CPN)
AFC is a member of a coalition of more than 30 nonprofits, government agencies, educators, and elected officials committed to Arlington’s vision of inclusivity and diversity. CPN is hosting quarterly roundtable discussions to learn from those who are using Arlington’s social services about the challenges they face. The first three meetings—on education, healthcare, and housing—drew hundreds of low-income Arlington residents. Many AFC patients participated and some of our staff volunteered to serve as note takers and table hosts.

The social data we’re collecting; the individual experiences we’re gathering as we guide a handful of AFC patients through the 200 Bridges pilot; and the relationships being built through regular, cross-sector collaboration support our goal of identifying the biggest challenges to our patients’ health and strategically directing resources toward interventions that hold the greatest promise.

Read our entire 2019 Spring Newsletter.

Patient Story: Beatriz & Miguel
Report from our Medical Director: Happy 75th Anniversary to an Unparalleled Community Partner
Expanding Impact through Dental-Only Pilot
Arlington Free Clinic & Medicaid Expansion
Volunteer Spotlight: Leigh Watlington, MD
Partner Spotlight: Urban Alliance