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Compassionate Care with Culmore Clinic

by Allison Colby,Interim Executive Director, Culmore Clinic
7881CF48-A700-4DA5-AEAF-A5262C8DF3AEAccess to healthcare continues to be a crisis. An estimated 50,000 people are still uninsured in Fairfax County, Virginia, alone. Barriers to accessing medical care are legion. Affordability, language, and documentation are just a few examples. Dedicated individuals and congregations thought something should be done. In 2007, they opened Culmore Clinic.

Culmore Clinic is a 501c-3, non-profit healthcare clinic serving low-income adults in the Bailey’s Crossroads community at little to no cost. Supported by a diverse group of interfaith volunteers, healthcare providers, and donors, Culmore Clinic offers compassionate medical care, counseling services as well as specialty referrals. Their commitment to care for all is displayed with their top-notch medical interpretation services to ensure effective treatment to the culturally diverse community in which they work. Volunteers founded The Clinic in 2007 and to this day it is still significantly volunteer run, allowing more resources to go toward patient care.


I was drawn to The Clinic because of its unique and meaningful mission and am impressed by the way it is lived out in daily practice. Culmore Clinic is, at it’s core, an interfaith compassionate health care center. By naming and claiming these words in our mission it ensures that all will be treated with respect, diversity will be celebrated, and care will be patient centered and culturally competent. Personally, I come from a family rooted in faith and have been drawn to serving those who may have been overlooked. I value not only tolerance but true collaboration between faith groups and cultures to enrich the lives of the entire community. The Clinic does not just provide healthcare, it is a neighborhood beacon. A safe haven for all. A forum for dialogue and catalyst for change. This is why I serve here.

Success for us is when the care and resources we have worked hard to establish, meet the needs of the community we serve. We are far from “doing it all” but when we are able to connect patients with the services they need, in an otherwise expensive and confusing system, we are successfully serving our community. This matching of need with relief can take many forms at The Clinic.


Some days it means we are able to send a female patient for a free mammogram and prevent breast cancer. Some days it means we are able to help a patient navigate the pharmacy system and teach him how to use insulin for the first time. Success at The Clinic can take the form of countless volunteer hours spent making sure that a necessary surgery will be possible and affordable. It can mean connecting a patient with established programs in the county for much needed case management and housing support. Impacts, both large and small are the success stories that keep us pushing forward.

We are in the “business” of providing accessible, quality healthcare to all, but we certainly cannot do it alone. Our best days happen when we partner with neighboring organizations to provide an even more comprehensive network of support. For example, the generous Food Pantry volunteers, on site from Columbia Baptist Church @ Crossroads, have taken to providing our patients with seasonal fresh produce, in addition to assisting with nutrition bags at our Diabetes Group Visits. We have “great days” that involve visits from members of a local retirement community who set up our exam rooms and deliver dental care packages. Our partners in diagnostic and lab testing continue to provide us with free and reduced services to meet our busiest of great days! Culmore Clinic is committed to using resources wisely and putting all we can back into improving delivery of care. With partnerships like these, we are able to provide even more great days for our patients to come.


I invite you to check out our website at where you can find more about our volunteer opportunities. We’re always looking for RNs, healthcare providers, and those with administrative, data collection and interpreter knowledge. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter too where we send out updates on Open House events where you can take a tour of The Clinic. Also, we encourage you to spread the word about Culmore Clinic to your doctors and healthcare professionals as we are always looking to expand our specialty referral network.

Around Town: 10/11-10/17

No matter what type of event you are looking to head to this weekend, the events featured below will all help you make a difference in your community. See what you can do to give back to great nonprofits in your own backyard. Continue reading

In the News…

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and DC’s Mayor Gray is hosting a city-wide conversation on mental health on Saturday October 12th. The forum, entitled “Creating Community Solutions DC,” aims to engage hundreds of residents to “develop strategies to reduce the stigma associated with, and increase openness to, mental-health care,” according to the City’s website. This conversation will be the starting point for a community action plan to be developed by government officials, nonprofit and private sector leaders.
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In The News …

DC area unemployment rate is unchanged at 5.3 percent (Washington Post: Local): “The Washington area jobless rate hovered at 5.3% in November, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday that revealed little change in the local employment picture [...] the Washington economy has been steadily adding jobs, but not at a fast enough clip for the recovery to shift into higher gear.” Education and health services posted the largest job gains, with the latter alone adding 11,300 between November 2011 and 2012. Local leisure and hospitality continued to add jobs as well, while manufacturing and construction both subtracted. Overall, the area remains well below the national rate of 7.8%.

The Fiscal Cliff Legislation: A Primer for Nonprofits on Its Provisions (Nonprofit Quarterly): “The short message that should be taken away from the so-called “fiscal cliff” legislation passed last night is that it is no time to relax [...] Here is our scorecard on the fiscal cliff mini-bargain.” At the NPQ website, you can read an overview of the final legislation on charitable deductions, marginal tax rates, and other taxes (such as the payroll tax); that said, “good news for nonprofits and the communities they serve is that a variety of programs that benefit working class and lower income people have been saved — for the time being.”

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Taking Care

From “Commentary: Mental Health Of DC Youth Needs To Be Priority” by Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, on WAMU 88.5:

Health care can be the difference between life and death. I’m not talking about a surgeon performing quadruple bypass. I mean mental health services such as therapy, counseling, and medication. [...]

The human and financial cost of not treating mental health disorders is staggering. Nationally, 67 percent of young people in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Last year, 66 percent of children entering foster care in the District were found to have mental health needs. And last year, more than 200 children were sent to residential programs as far away as Texas because DC couldn’t provide intensive in-home support.

Citing the example of an 11-year-old boy who was treated physically, but never mentally, following a drive-by shooting, Sandalow points out that “literally thousands of the District’s children never get needed mental health services” — and mental wounds, like physical wounds, cannot heal if not promptly detected and treated. Moreover, these same wounds have long-term effects, and costs, for both the individuals and communities; thus spending on preventative medicine is, in essence, an investment for the future.

Often, mental health needs are not instantly apparent — like a broken bone or cold. Realizing, understanding, and ultimately responding to these needs require a high level of engagement that is not present in every child’s life. So how can we ensure both proper care and the engagement that leads to it?

In The News …

Unemployment Still on the Rise in DC (DC Fiscal Policy Institute): The District ended 2011 with an average yearly unemployment rate of 10.3 percent, slightly higher than the rate for 2010 and far higher than that for 2007 before the start of the recession. This is a sign that economic weakness continues to affect DC residents.” Workers ages 16 to 24 still have the highest unemployment rate (17.4), but this same demographic also saw a drop from 2010 to 2011 — the only group to do so. On the flip side, the rate for residents with a high school diploma continued to rise: from 9.7 in 2007 to 25.3 in 2011.

The report concludes that “the economic recovery is far from complete, so it is important to consider policies to support these populations with high unemployment rates.”

The Helen Hayes Awards Nominations Are Announced (Washingtonian Blog): Special congratulations to the three Catalogue nonprofit theater companies that received nominations for their 2011 productions. TheatreWashington, also a Catalogue nonprofit, announced the nominations this past Monday. Synetic Theatre nabbed fifteen nominations for a single production, their dynamic and wordless King Lear. Adventure Theatre received thirteen nobs in total, including nine for A Year With Frog and Toad and three nominations in the Outstanding Production: Theatre for Young Audiences category. And Woolly Mammoth Theatre received eight nominations, including nobs for Director, Lead Actor, and Production for A Bright New Boise.

With Few Other Options, More Low-Income Patients Visit ER for Dental Care (PBS via DCentric): “More Americans are visiting the emergency room because of toothaches and other routine dental problems — at 10 times the cost of preventative care and with far fewer treatment options than a dentist’s office,” according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States. From 2006 to 2009, the number of emergency room trips for dental care went up by 16% and the trend seems to be continuing. And the costs of that trend are high: “a routine teeth cleaning that could prevent future dental problems can cost up to $100, as compared to $1,000 for ER treatment for untreated cavities and infections.” You can learn more about our nonprofit free (and mobile) clinics right here.

Aging At Home

From “A Shift From Nursing Homes to Managed Care at Home” in the New York Times:

Faced with soaring health care costs and shrinking Medicare and Medicaid financing, nursing home operators are closing some facilities and embracing an emerging model of care that allows many elderly patients to remain in their homes and still receive the medical and social services available in institutions. [...]

In the newer model, a team of doctors, social workers, physical and occupational therapists and other specialists provides managed care for individual patients at home, at adult day-care centers and in visits to specialists. Studies suggest that it can be less expensive than traditional nursing homes while providing better medical outcomes. [...]

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In The News … (cont.)

Tackling Alzheimer’s Disease (WAMU: The Diane Rehm Show): “We all understand that Alzheimer’s disease is a major challenge for the country and for patients and their families, and, until now, we have not had a unified national effort to address this challenge. So a year ago, the president signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act into law, and through his commitment, this law requires our Department of Health and Human Services to establish the first-ever national Alzheimer’s plan,” said Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. The IONA Senior Services (a Catalogue nonprofit) Director of Consultation, Care Management, and Counseling Deborah Rubenstein was a guest on the show, which you can listen to right here.
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In The News …

14 percent of VA children live in poverty (WTOP): “The percentage of Virginia children living in poverty in 2010 was at its highest rate since 1998, an anti-poverty group reported Tuesday. The total number of children living in poverty totals nearly 265,000, or 14 percent of children under 18 in the state, Voices for Virginia’s Children said in a report to be presented to the General Assembly. While well below the US rate, the number in Virginia has increased steadily since the start of the economic downturn in 2007, when it was 12.9 percent, according to the report. In raw numbers, an additional 33,000 children are living in poverty.” You can learn more about Catalogue’s Children, Youth, and Families non-profits right here, twelve of which are based in Virginia.

In Maryland, a prescription for better health care (Washington Post Local): “Maryland is near the top of the national rankings in median household income, but the state’s great wealth does not equal good health for everyone. Instead, the state has troubling clusters of chronic disease, low-birth-weight babies and limited access to health care for those who lack the means to pay. Areas with large minority populations, including Prince George’s County, are especially hard-hit.” A new proposal, unveiled by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, “urges lawmakers to create health-care zones, which would mimic economic-enterprise zones” and state and local governments offer tax incentives for medical professionals who establish practices in underserved areas. It also would monetary awards for communities or nonprofits that find innovative ways to improve the overall health of a community.
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In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday! Let’s see what’s in the non-profit and local news …

The US Maternal Health Crisis: 14 Numbers You Need To Know — Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday and at Amnesty International, “we’re honoring mothers by fighting for maternal health.” As an update to last year’s report on maternal health in the US, Amnesty has also released some striking numbers: “49: The number of countries that have lower maternal mortality ratios than the US” and “2x: Women living in low-income areas across the US were 2 times as likely to suffer a maternal death.”

Mapping DC’s Food Deserts — Do look over the US Department of Agriculture‘s map of food deserts (low income areas without grocery store access) published on DCentric yesterday: “About 18,000 DC residents live in food deserts … In one such food desert, 39 percent of residents are children. And although Prince George’s County … has more food deserts, DC’s deserts have a higher concentrations of children.” The article also points out that the health problems are two-fold: “Violence and the perception of violence creates environments in which children and adults are less likely to go outside, walk, bike and generally be active.”

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