Report from our Medical Director: Happy 75th Anniversary to an Unparalleled Community Partner

Every Arlington Free Clinic patient needs, at a minimum, some basic lab work. However, in a given year, about half of our patients will require additional diagnostic services to detect conditions like cancer or heart disease. Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) not only supports all of these needs, but, when a problem is identified, we can count on a specialist from one of the many VHC Physician Group practices to provide a timely consult, a much-needed procedure, or a life-saving surgery. VHC annually donates thousands of tests, X-rays, and special procedures to AFC patients—more than $1.6M in services last year alone! The hospital has been an indispensable partner in care since AFC opened 25 years ago.

The list of ways VHC helps AFC is lengthy. The VHC hospitalists work to coordinate a seamless transition from inpatient care to our Clinic for seriously ill patients. The hospital’s Financial Aid office allows AFC’s Case Manager to submit applications for charity care on behalf of our uninsured patients who require hospital services, a barrier-busting accommodation for our population that has low levels of health literacy. VHC grants our volunteer gastroenterologist, Dr. Ian Shenk (recently retired from Kaiser Permanente) hospital privileges, which enabled him to perform 37 colonoscopies and 31 upper endoscopies for our patients last year. AFC is in the midst of a multiyear process to select and convert to a new electronic health record (EHR) system. Having recently completed an EHR conversion of its own, VHC has demonstrated its commitment to AFC during our EHR transition process, understanding that the ability to exchange test results and medical information with AFC is crucial to our partnership. In short, AFC simply could not execute its mission without the tremendous support of VHC.

I also want to point out that the affiliation between AFC and VHC is rather unusual in the world of safety-net clinics, and the effects reach far beyond our Clinic. This unique relationship enhances the health of Arlington overall and contributes immeasurably to our sense of community.

Please join me in wishing Virginia Hospital Center a very happy 75th Anniversary and in thanking them for being such a fantastic community partner to Arlington Free Clinic for the past 25 years.

Joan Bowes Ritter, MD
Medical Director

Read our entire 2019 Spring Newsletter.

Collaborating Across the Community for Greater Health Equity
Patient Story: Beatriz & Miguel
Expanding Impact through Dental-Only Pilot
Arlington Free Clinic & Medicaid Expansion
Volunteer Spotlight: Leigh Watlington, MD
Partner Spotlight: Urban Alliance