How does an organization like Arlington Free Clinic plan for the future? As we work to develop a new strategic plan to guide us in the coming years, I would love a crystal ball. Healthcare reform, immigration policy, housing costs, Medicaid expansion, trends in volunteerism and the outcome of the November election will each have an unknown impact on our work. However, as we conduct research into these and many other topics during our planning, three things are already very clear.
The Need for Our Services Remains Great: Arlington Free Clinic’s tag line reads Until Everyone has Healthcare. Many people predicted that with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there would no longer be a need for clinics such as ours. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
Fewer than 20 percent of our patients were transitioned out of AFC due to income levels high enough to qualify for insurance coverage under the ACA; they were quickly replaced by new patients who were ineligible. Despite the high cost of housing in Arlington, there are at least 11,000 low-income, uninsured Arlingtonians. The number of individuals who come to our doors seeking care continues to exceed our capacity.
The Needs of Our Patients Are Complex: Through our research, we know that our patients’ needs extend far beyond healthcare. Lack of access to food, safe and affordable housing, transportation, language skills, and employment not only keep individuals in poverty, they are major barriers to good health. Imagine trying to manage insulin while worrying about a safe place to sleep or lack of food. This year, we have strengthened our relationships and formed new partnerships with safety-net organizations who provide these essential services. We’ve had great success with a pilot program using social workers to connect our patients with services to help remove the barriers to good health–and hopefully give them a bridge out of poverty.
It Takes a Village: Early in our strategic planning process, we made a strong commitment to continue our volunteer model of healthcare delivery. Our team of over 500 volunteers are the heart of this organization. The highlight of my day is observing the special teamwork that occurs between AFC staff and volunteers as they collaborate to provide care to those in such great need. Additionally, we could not exist without the support of Virginia Hospital Center, Arlington County Department of Human Services, and our many other community partners.
Finally, it is only through the generosity of our donors that we can help others. As I complete my first year as executive director, I am touched every day by the support that we receive from individuals like you. One day, perhaps, everyone will have access to healthcare. Until then, I ask for your support again this year as we provide care to those with no other options.
Read our complete 2016 Annual Report.
- Yesenia: Strong Partnerships Mean that Patient Needs Come First
- Addressing Basic Needs to Help Patients Lead Healthier Lives
- AFC Highlights, July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016
- Planning for the Future of AFC
- Three Generations of AFC Nurses
- Why I Give
- Provider Spotlight: Janice Zima, NP & VHC Physician Group: Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine
- A Message from the Board Chair