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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Culmore Clinic depends on volunteers, corporate gifts, and donated services

Representatives of Capital One present a check to the Culmore Clinic. Left to right: nurse practitioner Christine Birden, volunteer Astrid Akins, staff nurse Raquel Tun; nurse volunteer Agnes Burkhart; Mason Supervisor Penny Gross; volunteer medical director Charles Sneiderman; Executive Director Terry Lavoie; and Capital One representatives Onasis Fuentes, Wilson Marroquin, and Reshan Tariq.
The Culmore Clinic depends on volunteers and corporate donations to provide basic healthcare to uninsured adults in the Bailey’s Crossroads community. On July 11, the clinic received a major donation from Capital One: a check for $1,500, which follows a $500 gift from the company last month.

The Culmore Clinic was founded in 2007 by two parishioners from St. Anthony Catholic Church—Terry O’Hara Lavoie and Ann Cartwright—with assistance from Annandale United Methodist Church. It’s run as a collaborative effort among more than a dozen area congregations.

Nurse practitioner Christine Burden works with a patient at the Culmore Clinic.
The clinic is staffed by a combination of volunteers and paid professionals. It’s only open once a week, but Lavoie hopes it can expand to twice a week as soon as they can raise enough funds to hire another doctor.

“There are a lot of uninsured people in St. Anthony’s parish. It was a real challenge. We thought someone should do something about it,” Lavoie says, explaining how the clinic got its start. It was temporarily housed in a mosque at first, then moved to the Culmore Family Resource Center, a facility operated by Fairfax County in the Culmore apartment complex, and then to its current location at the Crossroads campus of Columbia Baptist Church on Glen Carlyn Road.

People come to the clinic for everything from colds, to headaches, to diabetes management. “People often show up in great pain,” Lavoie says. It can become an overwhelming situation for people who have little money, no health benefits, difficult family situations, and nowhere else to turn.

The real challenge is finding specialty care in the community when clients have more severe problems, she  said.

She is proud of the Culmore Clinic’s many success stories, including being able to diagnose and secure specialists to treat a woman with a brain tumor, another with breast cancer, and arrange surgery to restore hearing for a young man whose hearing had been severely damaged by a series of infections.

The clinic wouldn’t have been able to address those kinds of health needs without help from Inova Health System, Fairfax Radiological Consultants, and other healthcare providers. The clinic receives $1.3 million a year in donated services.

The clinic focuses on adults because there already are healthcare programs for children operated by the county. “We don’t want to duplicate what’s already going on,” says Lavoie.

Most of the patients are from Bailey’s Crossroads or Annandale, but the Culmore Clinic will serve anyone from Fairfax County. Patients are asked to contribute a $10 donation per visit. They are also invited to participate in healing prayers offered by The Falls Church Anglican church.

The clinic is open on Thursdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. On a typical day, clinic staff can see 16 to 20 patients. There are at least 80 people on the waiting list, which means it will take at least four months to get an appointment. But Lavoie notes, the county-run Bailey’s Health Center has a seven-month wait for an appointment.


  1. So, does the Anglican church offer money for this project, or just the opportunity to join them?

  2. guess the Annandale angle on thus story is the Annandale UMCs involvement with the clinic -- otherwise don't get a connection

    1. We have expanded out coverage to include Baileys Crossroads, Seven Corners, and other areas in Mason District.