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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Culmore Clinic will relocate

Nurse Juan Ramirez at the Culmore Clinic
The Culmore Clinic, which provides free basic healthcare to lower-income residents of the Culmore community, is losing its space at Columbia Baptist Church.

The church, on Glen Carlyn Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, is reclaiming the clinic’s space so it can expand its early childhood development center. The Culmore Clinic was founded about 10 years ago and has been at Columbia for the past eight years.
Nurse practitioners Glenda Thomas, Mary Jo Frickel, and Maura Constance.
Fortunately, First Christian Church on Leesburg Pike in Seven Corners offered the clinic free space that is actually a little larger. The clinic plans to move in early 2019.

Although the new location is slightly farther away from the apartments where most people served by the clinic live, it’s on a bus line and it’s on the same side of  Leesburg Pike, said Culmore Clinic Executive Director Allison Colby at an open house Nov. 8.

The Culmore Clinic logs in about 1,000 patient visits a year. Patients must be adults who live in Fairfax County, must be uninsured, and must have household incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level.

It’s open twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The most common health issues treated are diabetes and hypertension.

Nurse Felicia Tan
Clinic visits are free, although people are asked to contribute a $10 donation. Patients get discounts for lab tests. The clinic works with specialists in the community to provide free care or discounts based on a sliding scale. Hospital visits are often covered by Inova’s charity care program.

Nearly all the caregivers – primary care physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and counselors – volunteer their time. A physical therapist and dermatologist make periodic visits to the clinic. There are weekly health education sessions to teach people how to manage their illnesses and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Volunteer interpreters explain medical terminology, and there’s also a prayer team if patients want their help.

People often come to the clinic for one thing and find out they have other health issues. Many work in jobs like construction or housecleaning that take a toll on their bodies. Most of the clients are struggling with other problems, such as food insecurity, unsafe housing, and lack of transportation.

The Spend Yourself Food Pantry, which serves the same population as the Culmore Clinic, will stay at Columbia Baptist Church.
Mental health counseling is a key part of the clinic’s services, as many Culmore residents have experienced trauma, anxiety, and depression, especially if they’ve left their family in their home country. Many seniors feel isolated if they can’t speak English and are left home alone while their adult children are working two or three jobs.

The clinic is mostly funded through grants from foundations, donations from other religious institutions, and individual donors, Colby says. It doesn’t get any funds from Fairfax County. Its annual budget is $350,000 but the clinic leverages about $1.4 million a year in donated services. Donations can be made here.

After the clinic gets settled in its new location, Colby would like to see it eventually expand to three days a week. While existing patients can be seen right away, new patients have to wait a month to see a provider.

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